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Plastic recycling just became DIY and open source
Dave Hakkens is best known as the man behind internet sensation Phonebloks, a concept for a modular phone – but long before that took off he had another idea.
That idea is Precious Plastics; a recycling system that turns surplus plastic bottles into new products, creating a never-ending lifespan for plastic goods and reducing waste.
Now Hakkens has unveiled the designs – and what’s more, he’s made them available for anyone to download in the hope or receiving feedback from interested parties and manufacturers.
“It sort of all started when I noticed we have a lot of plastic waste,” states Hakkens. “For a lot of reasons, we can’t do anything with plastic. With wood, you have a carpenter. I heard that less than 10% is recycled. Which is weird—it’s easy to recycle, and you only need low temperatures.”
Hakkens conducted market research by visiting collection facilities and plastics manufacturers around the Netherlands to study the reason why that percentage is so small. “Basically the problem was that plastic production goes really fast, so they don’t want to use recycled plastic because it might be dirty and slow them down,” he says.
His research gave birth to a device comprised of a shredder, plus a rotational molding device, an extrusion machine, and an injection-molding machine.
The recycling machines are basic by choice, as Hakkens wants his plastics ‘factory’ to be something that could be replicated anywhere. “Most of the parts are things you can find around, because I’m not sure what materials they have in Africa or India,” he says.
Unlike Phonebloks, Hakkens doesn’t intend Precious Plastics to be a commercial affair. Instead of selling it to the public, he pictures his product in small shops where it will convert plastic litter into purchasable goods. “That was the idea,” Hakkens says. “You can have a carpenter, or a metal worker, and now you can have a plastics person.”