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With These DIY Machines, Anyone Can Transform Plastic Waste into New and Useful Objects

Dave Hakkens’ open-source platform empowers people around the world to “recycle like rockstars”

By Core Jr – April 20, 2016

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The statistics around plastic waste are astonishing. Over 100 million tons of plastic are manufactured around the world each year, but according to an EPA study from last year, only 9% of what we make is successfully recovered through recycling. The reasons behind this are many, starting with general consumer confusion about what can and cannot be recycled. Moreover, the complex industrial processes that execute the sorting and transformation of plastic material have pretty high margins of error. Because of this, many companies refuse to use recycled plastic as it tends to be less pure and can damage their machines and slow down production.

Dutch designer and Core77 contributor Dave Hakkens is pursuing a grass-roots approach to this problem by creating at-home versions of industrial recycling machines that are far simpler and offer a more productive way of handling our plastic waste. Last month he released version 2.0 of Precious Plastic, a project that he has been developing for years. “The project started as my graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven back in 2013, but at that stage it was more a proof of concept—the machines worked but were still quite hard to re-build,” Hakkens told us. “Over the last year we’ve spent a lot of time re-developing the machines so they only use easily available materials that can be found all over the world. The machines we came up with can be made using only basic tools and by referencing our instruction videos. We’ve been working really hard to make the process as easy as possible for others to get started.”

He developed four machines—a plastic shredder, an extruder, an injection molder and a rotation molder—that all center around a modular system for easy repairs and customization options. Blueprints and a robust series of instructional videos are available online, so anyone can download them and become a “craftsman of plastic.”

So far, Hakkens has used his machines to create a a bunch of everyday objects—including, hats, tableware and clipboards—but this is just starting to scratch the surface of possibilities. “Personally, I’d love to have a collection of plastic objects that show the true value of the material,” he said. “But for know the focus is still on getting the information spread and helping people around the world get started.”

Dave Hakkens' open-source platform empowers people around the world to "recycle like rockstars"