Open Source Machines Shred, Compress, Inject & Extrude Recycled Plastic Trash

By: | October 24th, 2016

Precious Plastics

This is the coolest thing you’ve never yet seen! This website offers an open source design for making plastic trash useful again. It takes some tinkering, but the little machines can be put together from odds and ends of scrap items. Then the plastic trash can be processed into some new form.

As to WHY, the Precious Plastic website just provides a link to a Google search for “plastic + waste” that offers a cache of photos making the obvious point. Plastic waste is suffocating us. The idea is to view plastics, which we generally think of as cheap and disposable, as a precious but toxic commodity that should be treated with both caution and respect.

The folks at Precious Plastic are on a mission. Their “plan” is to “develop machines to recycle plastic; share the blueprints online, for free; provide people [with] the knowledge to start; spread this information to every corner of the world” which they say “is where you come in.” So, here I am sharing this information with you, who must surely know someone else who could make good use of this knowledge and also wants to share.

The shredder makes plastic flakes that are used as the raw material for putting into the extruder to make filament, into the injector to be heated and molded into small repetitive items, or into the compression oven to be molded into larger solid items, such as plastic bricks.

Precious Plastics

Precious Plastics

The construction of the shredder is basically made from a stand, such as from an old fish tank, on which is mounted a power outlet, a motor, and a hopper with teeth. The other models are similarly made from easy to obtain items. There is a free download kit that contains detailed CAD drawings of each machine. And, there are tutorial videos, diagrams, and blueprints to guide the actual construction of the machines. The idea is to have all the instructional details online so that they are accessible to everyone anywhere in the world. A handy tinkerer can build the machines at home.

An unlimited number of items can be fashioned from the plastic trash. It can be turned into filaments or granulates for use with 3D printers. The filaments can be used as a sort of thread and woven into baskets or hats. Or it can be molded to make things like bricks or flower pots.

There are no machines for sale, no cost for the information, nor business being promoted. This is a self-starter project, with the intention of dealing with our global problem of plastics pollution. But, Precious Plastic absolutely encourages individuals to use the designs to start a business of their own, as long as they are recycling old plastics and not buying newly made chips and filament. But, why would you?

Precious Plastics

Precious Plastics

The project founder, Dave Bakken, first took on the idea in 2013 as his graduate design project, and keeps his profile low-key, making his personal story a secondary aspect of the website. His appearance comes in to play with the news page he maintains to share the success stories of others. And, he makes a point of showing appreciation to his “bae” [before anyone else special partner] Lieke for nurturing him and putting up with his obsessive drive to bring this simplified plastic recycling process to fruition. He points out that some of what should have been couples time was instead spent exploring landfills in Ghana.

Bakken doesn’t have an organization or make money for himself out of this project. He just wants to rid the world of the plastic pollution that permeates every corner of the planet. But, he credits others who have joined in along the way to take important pieces and run with them for making the impossible possible.

The final step in the intended process is that you and I spread the information far and wide. This is an opportunity for armchair activists and talented tinkerers to unite. There is a chat forum as well so that the two can find each other and collaborate on projects.

So, what are you waiting for? Hit the share button and join the plastics transformation revolution!

Carol Mosley

Carol Mosley is a social ecologist, freelance writer, human rights activist, mini-farmer, and educator.

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