DIY Plastic Recycling

DIY Plastic Recycling

Although widely available, plastic waste is not used to its fullest potential as it is found laying around as trash on the streets or in the ocean. Under-appreciated by many, Dutch designer Dave Hakkens calls it precious.

Hakkens’ project radically tackles the plastic recycling problem with DIY machines. The designer, known for the conceptual design project “Phonebloks”, offers a solution to build modular plastic recycling machines with mechanical parts that could be found in most places around the world, such as old ovens or obsolete motors. The machines can thus be made out of recycled parts and the modularity of the design makes them easy to repair and to be personalised.

Each machine takes 3 – 5 days to build at an estimated cost of 200 euros per machine. Four machines allow you to create simple and customisable designs:

  1. THE SHREDDER shreds plastic into small grains for further treatment. After the shredded composite is created, it is processed in either one of the three machines below.
  2. THE EXTRUSION MACHINE turns the plastic grains into a cable of plastic, which can be used as decorations, raw material in 3D printing, etc.
  3. THE INJECTION MACHINE injects plastic into a mould. This is suitable for small objects. Bigger objects are made with the following compression machine.
  4. THE COMPRESSION MACHINE is an oven in which pressure is applied to the previously designed and welded metal mould under high temperatures.

The project is Open Source, tutorials and blueprints can be found online for free to build plastic recycling machines. By sharing innovative recycling techniques free of charge, Dave Hakkens allows for innovation and ultimate accessibility of plastic recycling for everyone. People from all parts of the world are building and personalising his machines, and posting updates on this forum.

Can Precious Plastic really make a difference? Plastic recycling on a small scale will never be able to compete with the industrial production of more plastic waste in terms of speed and production capacity. However, by building these machines, you can clean up the neighborhood, become a plastic craftsman, and set in motion a sustainable mindset of recycling. The project seems to make a lot of sense in the rising trends in decentralisation of production, which encourages activities such as self-produced electricity, local food consumption, and human scale constructions.

Machines though are not that simple to build, as they require proper workshop facilities, basic metal and electronic skills to develop them. Expect a workshop at our production centre in the coming months to build these machines together and start recycling plastic with them. Stay tuned for our upcoming events!

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