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International News

Precious Plastics: global online open-source community battling plastic waste

International News

Hey everyone! This is Melisa once again writing the next CICLO blog. This time I would like to introduce an amazing online and open-source movement created to give new life to plastic waste called Precious Plastics.

Plastics are precious?


Yes they are! Ever since the invention of plastic in the late 1800’s, it has dramatically changed our lives (for better and for worse). As you may already know, plastics are very convenient because they are strong, durable and can withstand harsh temperatures and environmental changes (and they are cheap!). But it’s double-edged sword because of their tough durability, plastics should not be used for disposable one-time use items such as plastic bags, cups, utensils, bento boxes, ect. But you might be thinking, “Well, I do my best to recycle my plastic so what’s the problem?” Well the problem is that the only plastic that is efficiently recycled in Japan are PET bottles. The rest of the plastic was sold to China cheaply where they would re-use this material to make new and cheap products placed back into the consumer market. However, ever since the plastic ban in China last year, plastic waste is just piling up in Japan and people don’t know what to do with it anymore. Dave Hakkens, the founder of Precious Plastics, established all the way in the Netherlands, knew this was a global problem that needs to be tackled head on.

What does Precious Plastics do?


Dave wanted to do something about the plastic problem on a global scale so what better way to do this than online and through YouTube? Dave began his project in 2013. He began uploading and sharing his journey to start his Precious Plastic project and with it he also built a community of viewers. He had the idea of creating a way for everyone to be able to build their own plastic recycling machinery anywhere in the world at a low cost. He also educates people on the different kinds of plastic, how to identify them and how to correctly collect and separate them. He includes tutorials on how to build these machines step-by-step, with the list of materials, costs, labels, plus tips and tricks.

Precious Plastics also includes an online community with support forums and a global map indicating the location of other people around your local area also interested in joining the Precious Plastic cause. And guess what? It’s all open-source and free to download (no purchase required). There is also an online store known as the Bazar on the Precious Plastic.com website for people to feature and sell their creative recycled plastic products made using Dave’s machines (totaling up to 20,000 euros in transactions). Some of the awesome products made so far include tote bags, coasters, speakers, sunglasses, hats, surfboards, artwork and so much more! Take a look at what some creative minds have come up with below!

A Precious Plastic community

Since it’s release, the Precious Plastic community has grown exponentially around the world. More and more people are making new versions of Dave’s initial models, improving them by making them more useful and efficient. End-users continue to get more creative and are creating new products that no one thought could be made using recycled plastic. This was Dave’s vision. He wanted to create a global change with the help of a global community helping each other to create a better future for our planet. Dave recently won 300,000 euros after winning a prize from FAMAE, an independent family foundation from France that supports innovation in the environmental field. The foundation organizes a yearly International Challenge to help inventors to create innovative solutions that can substantially improve our daily lives and solve some of our environmental problems. With this opportunity, Dave has now increased his army of Precious Plastic fellows and has a staff of over 25 people in his team all in the Netherlands coming from around the world! He hopes to really get the ball rolling this time coming up with some new and innovative ideas such as creating biodegradable plastic from potato peels, creating a more user-friendly system for the Precious Plastic community and tackling waste in other sections such as the fashion industry. You can find his latest update below!


You can also join the Precious Plastic fight!

Map of Japan from Precious Plastic website.

Dave continues to expand his team of Precious Plastic followers from all around the world. There are currently a total of 70,000 users on the support forums, 10,000 people say they want to get started, 250 machine-builders and 350 workspaces around the world. If you locate the map on the PreciousPlastic.com website you will see that most of the action is concentrated around Europe, followed by the United States, parts of South America and Southeast Asia. However, the progress is relatively slow in Japan (sad but true). There are only a total of 4 machines made in Japan (one in Kanagawa, one in Nagoya, one in Ehime and the last in Kagoshima). Compared to the rest of the world, Japan is greatly falling behind.

If you are interested to join the cause, go to PreciousPlastic.com and find out how you can help. Follow their Instagram down below as well. They are also always accepting donations through their Patreon account which I will link down below! I hope that you have learned something new and that Dave’s work to build Precious Plastics has inspired you to think more carefully about plastic and its true hidden value! Change is possible but we just need to be more knowledgeable about these issues and then choose to act!

Thank you for reading. See you on our next CICLO blog!

Precious Plastic
Open source machines, tools and infrastructures to fight plastic pollution from the bottom up. For free.

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