DAVE HAKKENS | Precious Plastic


Precious Plastic is an open source project aiming to boost plastic recycling worldwide by empowering communities and individuals with the tools and knowledge to create something new from plastic waste. Our mission is to (re)valorize plastic so we can eliminate its waste altogether, create more local circular economies, and educate people about the plastic waste problem. While traditional centralized recycling systems require massive investments and access to high tech machinery that’s unaccessible for much of the developing world, we provide DIY recycling machines, techniques, and knowledge to turn plastic waste into new products for every corner of the globe. Our four machines for recycling plastic are developed using universal materials and basic tools so anyone can build them with locally sourced materials. The blueprints of our designs are published for free open source online and come with a detailed set of 40 instruction videos, guidebooks, and all the other necessary knowledge for people to create a fully functional plastic recycling workspace, including plastic types, collection, product design, product creation, and finishing techniques. Our machines and methodologies provide a production system that starkly contrasts the mass production of virgin plastic and it’s associated environmental degradation. Through local collection and low-volume craft production, participants witness their plastic waste transformed into beautiful new products, subsequently reframing the narrative of detached consumption and disposal in favor of a participatory act of creating an alternative future without waste. Since the project’s inception in 2013, the community has grown to more than 350 known Precious Plastic workspaces around the world using our machines to recycle plastic waste locally. Our online discussion forum has 40,000+ members contributing questions, hacks, tips, and resources related to running a plastic recycling workspace. Our online map has 10,000 pins from people offering their skills to help others get started.