With actual plastic recycling and recovery rates hovering around 8 percent in the United States for 2011, there's more plastic ending up in landfills than in recycling plants. It begs the question of whether it's a problem of policy, infrastructure or habit, but Dutch designer Dave Hakkens (see his customizable Phonebloks concept and wind-powered oil press, previously), has developed a open-source prototype for a plastics recycling machine, believing that it could be a matter of putting recycling straight into the hands of people, right where they live. See it in action:
Seen over at Dezeen and recently showcased at Eindhoven's Dutch Design Week, Hakken's Precious Plastic recycling system consists of a plastic shredder, extruder, injection moulder and rotation moulder, which have been adapted from industrial models to be more user-friendly.
In his preliminary research into low plastic recycling rates, he discovered that manufacturers preferred new plastics for making their products because recycled plastic is seen as less reliable and 'pure' and thus potentially damaging to expensive machinery. This led to Hakkens' idea for a smaller-scaled operation which could process such inconsistencies, which he created using a combination of new, customized components and salvaged stuff like an old oven:
I wanted to make my own tools so that I could use recycled plastic locally. In the end you have this set of machines that can start this local recycling and production centre.
To demonstrate this idea in action, Hakkens designed a series of recycled plastic products that could be produced in such a way, like lampshades, bins and so on.
Hakkens intends to make the design available online so that people can set up their own workshops, recycling and producing plastic products locally, while improving upon the design in a crowdsourced way:
The idea is that you can make whatever moulds you want for it - so I made this, but I prefer that everybody can just use them and make whatever they want and start setting up their production. People can just make [the machines] on the other side of the world, and maybe send some feedback and say 'maybe you can do this better.
Hakkens envisions that this system could be incorporated into the 3D printing process, and if there's some kind of financial incentive given to local residents who bring in raw material, could be a way to encourage truly local recycling. More over at Dezeen, Dave Hakkens' website and Precious Plastic.