Dezeen and MINI World Tour: in our next movie from Eindhoven, Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Dave Hakkens shows us how his Precious Plastic recycling machines work and explains why he made the blueprints freely available online.

Precious Plastic local recycling centre by Dave Hakkens

Hakkens' Precious Plastic project is a set of simple machines for recycling plastic and making new products locally.

He says he got the idea for the project after visiting plastic manufacturing companies and discovering that they were reluctant to use recycled plastic.

Precious Plastic local recycling centre by Dave Hakkens

"We recycle just 10% [of waste plastic]," says Hakkens. "I wondered why we recycle so little so I investigated it. I went to all these companies and I realised that they don't really want to use recycled plastic. So I wanted to make my own tools so I could use recycled plastic locally."

Precious Plastic local recycling centre by Dave Hakkens

The Precious Plastic machines include a plastic shredder, an extruder, an injection moulder and a rotation moulder, which Hakkens made using a combination of new custom-made components and reclaimed parts he found at a scrapyard.

"I made these machines based on industrial standards," says Hakkens. "But they are all made very simple so you can produce locally. Like a craftsman, you can start working with plastic."

Precious Plastic local recycling centre by Dave Hakkens

Hakkens designed a range of products to be produced using the machines, including a rotation-moulded waste paper bin, an injection-moulded spinning top and an extruded plastic lamp.

However, he says the machines can be used to make a much wider variety of products.

"You can make whatever you want," he explains. "Everybody can use [the machines] to make whatever they want and set up their own production."

Precious Plastic local recycling centre by Dave Hakkens

Like Hakkens' Phonebloks concept for a modular mobile phone, Precious Plastic is an open-source project and Hakkens hopes other designers will adapt and improve the machines over time.

"I developed these machines and I shared them on the internet," Hakkens says. "People can make them on the other side of the world and send some feedback and say, 'hey, maybe you can do this better'. In the end you'll have this set of machines and you can start a local recycling centre."

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Dave Hakkens
Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Dave Hakkens
  • central

    No mention of health and safety issues? (Oh, that!) These should be addressed. Even with appropriate precautions, plastic dust is a carcinogen.

    • mahyongg

      “Plastic dust” could be 1000’s of different formulations of which some may be carcinogenic, some for sure are not, not even as dust. That, to me, makes the critique unprofessional at best, unscientific for sure and the lack of solutions leaves it to be denigrating for sure…

  • Alexxica

    Instead of just denigrating the project, why not offer a solution or advice? It may not be a perfect solution but it’s a step in the right direction.

    • hauntore

      His cold critique isn’t denigrating it simply helps in a more direct manner.


  • Gregory Gilmour

    Instead a contributing to the cycle of consumption leading to waste leading to more consumption, let’s break the cycle by making less crap to start with.

    These objects are great pre-school examples of craft
    your mother would say are “lovely darling”, but what were you thinking with regards the adult section of the community?

    • M.a. Enriquez

      I am an adult, a designer with an environmental mindset. The items are already showing tremendous potential for future of manufacturing. I AM impressed with the objects shown and would actively purchase a bowl, cup, basket vessel, or lampshade. However, for those not enamoured of purist trash design, the potential is here. All ideas start somewhere.

      I hope that the technology develops so that any consumer can utilise plastic waste in their own home this way or, one could go to a local copy shop and make something useful instead of land filling plastic not accepted by recycling centres. Open your mind and embrace great ideas. This is one.

  • Advance Robotics

    This is pretty cool. Comment 1: All he has do to is find out how they test plastic for anything harmful (as long as he is not using them for consumption), and comment 2: I wouldn’t mind having it in my place and since he is picking up recyclables that means the cost to make it will be much cheaper than your average lamp. So his main selling point would be college students and hipsters.

  • g

    Mixing some Studio Swine and Dirk van der Kooij.

  • Gregory Gilmour

    Good point. Keep the trash at the home, you have have just turned into a factory!

    • Scotta Claborn Blanchat

      Gregory, one should at least make sense when they offer a rebuttal.

  • JM

    This guy is great!

  • Eh

    I like the idea of recycling plastics, but sometimes I feel like it’s delaying the inevitable. Eventually someone will get tired of the cup or bowl or trashcan made from recycled plastic and it will go back in the landfill. Plastic takes a long time to disintegrate and plastics often release toxic chemicals into the soil, air, water etc.

    Overall we need to start really focusing on making products using non-toxic processes and materials that degrade safely (glass, paper, wood, vegetable dyes, etc) and move away from plastics altogether. Or, you know, move away from the disposable-goods consumer society we currently live in… both would probably be good.

  • Teejay

    How can I link the owner of this re-cycling technology to buy the machines and install in rural West Africa to create employment opportunities and alleviate poverty. Contact me now:

    cmfgam@yahoo.co.uk (tel+2206611884)