DIY plastic recycling workshops

Precious Plastic
Netherlands (Eindhoven)

A lot of things we have are made from plastic. The synthetic material is used everywhere, but it also ends up everywhere – mostly in landfills or oceans. Of all the plastic thrown away, we recycle just 10%. 

Dutch designer Dave Hakkens is on a mission to boost that number, by letting people in every corner of the world know they can start their own local little plastic recycling workshop. The reason why? On his website, he explains it by simply linking to these shocking images, which do all the explaining.

Precious Plastic is my biggest project. Ever. By far,” he explains. “It started with an idea to provide people the tools to start working with plastic waste locally. Sounds simple right?”

Actually, it’s pretty crafty. Using basic tools and materials, the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate has developed a series of DIY machines that enable everyone to work with plastic waste. “We develop machines to recycle plastic and share the blueprints open source for free so that everyone in the world can download and build them.”

Video tutorials on the Precious Plastic site encourage people to recycle different plastic types, build their own machines and download templates in order to start their own mini-recycle factory. “It’s not just for the big boys.” Machines include a plastic shredder, extruder, injection moulder and rotation moulder, which are all based on industrial machines but modified to be less complex and more flexible.

“The people making the machines are really improving them. It gives me a feeling of ‘you’re not on your own’ when people all over the world not only use the information, but also help to make the project grow and improve. That’s when it really grows beyond us – and that gives me joy!”

The site also includes the things you can create. It might be clipboards and tools for now, but “this is just a tiny fraction of what’s possible.”

In October 2017 Precious Plastic launched ‘Version 3.0’ which includes three things (hence the name). There’s a recycling container, so all you need to start recycling is a 380v plug and a bit of land. Blueprints and video tutorials are available online for free. Then there is their Bazar, an online marketplace to buy and sell products, parts and machines to create plastic recycling local economies around the world. Lastly, a tailored map (and we love a map) makes local collaboration easier and more effective across the Precious Plastic network of people.

The global online community of over 104,000 people relies on interacting and sharing. The network now includes over 350 people who have built machines – and a new one is popping up every week. “They really are all around the world, as its are so versatile. I’ve not even counted the countries. We only know about ones that exist when people share a picture back, because we don’t ask for anything – not even an email address.”

The passionate designer sees the problem of plastic as being both technical and cultural. “It’s definitely our disposable culture that we need to change, but also we just need infrastructure so we can really recycle. A problem like this has many small issues to it and we need to tackle all of them.” He believes creativity to be a very important element. “I do think creativity can show others examples or an alternative, and make it interesting exciting and inspiring – sort of paving the way for the masses.”

Watch the video below and get started creating new valuable things out of plastic, start a new business and clean up your neighbourhood.

AtlasAction ► Want to help? Spread the knowledge – and Dave urges you to go to the Netherlands to join his workspace “Precious Plastic Version 4 is kicking off! We have €300.000 budget, a big new workspace and a solid plan to fight plastic waste. Now we only need people like you to come and collaborate on this version.”

🎫 AtlasEvent ► Precious Plastic were at Fixing the future 2019 in Barcelona.


Submitted by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future (31 July 2018)

Project leader

Dave Hakkens


This project has been selected as part of CultureFutures, a new storytelling project that maps creative and cultural projects with a social mission – and the artists, collectives and entrepreneurs behind them.

Atlas of the Future is excited to join forces with Goldsmiths Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship and the British Council Creative Economy.

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