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Dave Hakkens is the designer of Precious Plastic, a machine that allows everyone to recycle plastic at home. He graduated with honors with the machine in 2013 at the Design Academy Eindhoven. The machines are currently displayed in the Design Museum in London, where the project has been nominated for the Designs of the Year Award. The winners will be announced on 26 January.

I wanted everyone to be able to build their own plastic recycling machine

The Precious Plastic machine forms plastic back to a raw material with which you can easily make a new product yourself, such as a vase or a bowl. All information for building the machine can be downloaded for free on the site.

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Precious Plastic machines

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Products made from recycled plastic with the Precious Plastic machine

Precious plastic is an open source project. What is your experience with that? 

“Precious Plastic was my graduation project. I wanted everyone to be able to build their own plastic recycling machine. So I put all the information online. Everything is open source, you basically only have to download the instructions and you’re ready to go. But it turns out it’s not that simple. People need more explanation and context before they can get the hang of it.”

One of the ways to give that explanation, are the videos that Dave regularly posts on YouTube. In those videos he explains what types of plastic are suitable for recycling or how you can easily make your own desk chair. Regardless the information the videos are worth watching.

So it takes more explanation?

“Yes, people like extra information. We also noticed that there were enthusiasts that supported the project, but for whom the threshold for building their own machine is too high. And the other way around. We have slowly created an online community around Precious Plastic where all these people can find each other and share tips. World-wide there are now about one hundred people who have built their own Precious Plastic machine.”

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Why recycle plastic? 

“I wanted to do something about the waste of plastic with this project. There are currently billions of kilos of plastic on the bottom of the ocean. Plastic that is being eaten by fish, pollutes the environment and eventually ends up on your plate.”

How easy is it to make a machine? 

“That depends on how handy you are, but it can be built in a couple of days. Many parts can be found on the scrap. I think the materials all together will cost you 100 to 200 euros. But the threshold remains too high for some. We want to make a starter kit in the next version, with which you can get to work right away.”

Do you do it all yourself? 

“At the beginning I did, after that people joined. At one point I won a 10.000 euro prize in Eindhoven. I then made an appeal: you can have that 10.000 euros if you can build the machine for me. Kees from Zeeland responded. An older man, un-employed, but a real machine builder. He helped me a lot.”

What does Eindhoven mean to you?

“I studied here, but I could live anywhere. Yet I still always come back to Eindhoven. The municipality of Helmond has also helped me with this huge working space.”

What is your favorite place in the city? 

“Teunissen! The best scrap heap in town.”