It’s not uncommon to recycle plastic. It has been recognized that the huge amount of plastic products that humans manufacture, use and discard every day are having a very detrimental effect on nature. At least that’s what Dutch designer Dave Hakkens thought.
Born in 1988, Hakkens received an undergraduate degree from the Eddie Horn Design Institute in 2013. His project, Precious Plastic, is his answer to this problem.
“I did some research…and found that the proportion of people who produce so much plastic waste every year is less than 10%, although I don’t know how these numbers are calculated, but obviously, you can see some of these plastic scraps every day,” he said. “So I decided to do something.”
He then developed several machines that he later called Version 1.0. They can then process the crushed waste plastics, reshape their volume and color by melting and compacting them to create new plastic products. Hakkens ended up sharing methods, drawings, 3D models and so on to the Internet. A German and a Spaniard made two similar machines using his methods, he recalls.
“It makes me realize how simple it is to share knowledge on the Internet, but at the same time it’s very difficult to get more people to accept and understand how the machine works,” said Hakkens.
So he started Version 2.0, so that the whole machine could be made less complicated—people could assemble the machines with parts they bought from any hardware or auto parts store.
Eventually, an unemployed Dutch technician and a mechanical engineer became the second member of Hakkens’s project. Altogether, they developed 4 machines that could crush, inject, squeeze and heat plastics, and filmed a series of installation tutorial videos. At the same time, an equally spontaneous German designer began to create a website for the project, and the team solicited a new project logo on the web.
These machines have been modified by Hakkens and his engineers to be simple and understandable, but having the space, parts and familiarity with plastic processing methods and simple color technique is not something everyone can achieve. As a result, Hakkens believed that a Precious Plastic Version 3.0 was necessary.
At Dutch Design week, which began on October 21, 2017, Hakkens released Version 3.0. He found a vacant factory and piled eye-catching colored plastic scrap at the entrance.But the latest version of Precious Plastic’s focus is not about a new way to make plastics, but to connect people around the world. His open-source ideas seem to be catching on, if the world map on his website littered with project participants is any indication.
“I haven’t been to these places, but they’ve all started using Precious Plastic to recycle plastics and process their own products,” he said. “Some of them are already selling their own products and others are selling their own machines.”
Precious Plastic does not have a model for profit; Hakkens doesn’t even have a business card. His current source of income is mainly a website for creative people named Patreon, which allows artists and other creatives the opportunity to receive funding directly from their fans and supporters.
Hakkens’s hope now is that these simple plastic workshops can be just like every other grocery store in every neighborhood.