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Precious Plastic 4 - Fully explained

davehakkens · Youtube · 70 HN points · 0 HN comments
HN Theater has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention davehakkens's video "Precious Plastic 4 - Fully explained".
Youtube Summary
The Precious Plastic Universe is our masterplan to create a global solution to tackle the plastic waste problem. In this video we’ll explain the ins and outs of our alternative plastic recycling system. We’ll explain about machines, business plans products, digital infrastructures and how you can get involved and be part of the solution in your community.

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Precious Plastic is a project researching and developing new solutions to tackle the plastic waste problem. We offer recycling machines, techniques to recycle plastic, business models to make a business from recycling and digital infrastructures to connect tens of thousands recyclers around the world. And all this is shared online under a Creative Common Attribution, for free so more people can start tackling the plastic waste problem.

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Precious Plastic is a registered Dutch foundation supported by hundreds of people powering our work and research to tackle the plastic waste problem. Find out ho you can support our work:
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Jan 07, 2020 · 70 points, 12 comments · submitted by mmastrac
I don't want to seem negative, but the issue here (unless it is a "hobby") is about the Laws (different even in countries belonging to EU) that regulate waste treatment.

Only as an example (dated Strasbourg, 16.1.2018):

The actual technical guide has been published soon after:

But nothing yet AFAIK to implement (and simplify where needed) the national Laws.

Basically, at least here in Italy, besides the (not-trivial amount of) bureaucracy and paperwork needed to be authorized even for a tiny activity, you need an analysis (from an authorised lab) to classify each and every batch of plastic waste you process.

And in some cases (some types of PVC come to mind) the material could be classified as "hazardous", and thus need to be disposed of by specialized firms (at a cost).

I have been following Precious Plastic and Dave for a few years now and I think this is a true honest attempt.

What are your thoughts on micro plastic pollution and it's harmful effects? I have seen a few videos showing people sawing and planing plastic which generates lots of fine particles. Is this going to cause more micro plastics pollution? Is handling these stuff in a home / diy environment harmful to humans?

I love the aesthetics of this project. Does anyone think it’s more of an art project than a serious engineering attempt?
This is a serious attempt. Dave Hakkens [1] graduated cum laude at the Design Academy Eindhoven, a highly regarded art school in the south of The Netherlands. The Wikipedia page is informative and a recommended read, though it does not include at least one grand he received after 2014 which I saw on TV (I don't remember the year or name of award, just that it was a design contest he won concerning Precious Plastic). You might've heard of Phonebloks before (a project with the same goal as Project Ara)? Same dude.

In Precious Plastic v4, many people collaborated, so it does not surprise me that the quality is high enough for someone to say "is this art?" Dave is a designer though (industrial designer); arguably not an artist. The goals of his projects have a practical use. I mean, is Jony Ive an artist, or a designer? Are his designs a work of art? Not sure it has to be one or the other.


This is a serious attempt. I've been following these guys for years. Last year they had a full makeshift staff of volunteer designers, engineers, web devs, etc. to build out this project further. They performed a lot of materials and manufacturing research to build these simple and affordable machines. Although the machines they developed are around $10k for a full setup, compare that to the multiple millions it costs to setup a true recycling center and you'll understand how important this is.

A small community can (and are) band together to build or purchase these machines to create community recycling centers, turning their trash into art or other useful things like dishes and furniture.

I was obsessed with this project for the last few years. Happy and surprised to see them on HN.

Related from 2017:
I spent a solid chunk of the last year contributing to this project and would be happy to answer any questions.

I commonly see Hacker News discussions on how plastic recycling is a waste of time/energy. The EPA's models feel otherwise, estimating one ton of recycled plastic saves 5,774 Kwh of energy, 16.3 barrels of oil, 98 million BTU's of energy, and 30 cubic yards of landfill space. [0][1]

One of the principles that started this project was the idea that recycling waste wood or metal is generally understood by your common DIYer, but is much less true for waste plastic. The team definitely feels like reducing plastic waste is the most important step, but we can also put the plastic around us to additional use.



This is the first time I hear of Precious Plastic. The community seems really positive, the site is awesome and professionally done (especially the map), the amount of content and already done tools is impressive.

The video and how-tos already give some ideas to produce (t-shape beams, geodesic dome connectors, wall sockets, bricks, carabiners...). I'd like to get a feel for limits and when it's not suitable to use. For example: how safe is it to have food in recycled plastic bowl, how much load can the t-beam hold, what's the melting point of brick, how much abuse the stool can take. Of course it depends on type of plastic used and probably pellet sizes and duration of extrusion. Can you give your opinion?

There's a few reasons I wouldn't feel comfortable calling anything made of recycled plastic food safe, but my biggest is from the huge variety of additives that go into products. These don't necessarily play nice with the remelt process. We did do some work on making your own bowls and the like from bio materials though. [0]

When it comes to mechanical properties, they don't change very much as long as you're creating a consistent material with your melt. The t-beam question comes back to basic physics calculations using elastic modulus and allowable stresses of whatever plastic goes into it.


I have been following Precious Plastic and Dave for a few years now and I think this is a true honest attempt. What are your thoughts on micro plastic pollution and it's harmful effects? I have seen a few videos showing people sawing and planing plastic which generates lots of fine particles. Is this going to cause more micro plastics pollution? Is handling these stuff in a home / diy environment harmful to humans?
That's a good question. Sadly there's definitely microplastics involved. Research into microplastic effects is still in very early stages. When you're creating any sort of dust (wood, metal, plastic, etch) particles around humans it's a good idea to have a dust mask at minimum.

My understanding is that most of the microplastic concerns at the moment are about how they're reaching our water sources and oceans. The amount being produced just by washing clothes is relatively scary.

Thank you!!! I appreciate the effort here and have followed Dave on Youtube for long time.... but have spent very little time on the precious plastics webpage. So if my questions are better answered there, please feel free to point me in the right direction.

I am super interested in starting a small space... as in my garage. I have a place on the side of my yard where I could store close to 10 pallet sized "containers" where I could store various plastics.

Admittedly, I have been hesitant to purchase the required machinery to process the plastic for selfish reasons. However, my wife and I have discussed the need to do something completely altruistic to show our children and I think this would satisfy more than a few "conditions" that would enable an investment in said machinery.

That all said, how would you go about collecting plastic? I live in a suburban city that has a recycling program. Should I ask businesses? Do I need to cold call to get steady supplies? Picking stuff off the side of roads and whatnot seems good for a while, but how would I make dent if I cannot secure a reliable source?

Sounds like you might be excited to check out the new academy we launched. There's a ton of new unlisted videos there too :) I'd take a look at the Spaces chapter. [0]

Collection is fairly amorphous at the moment, but that means there's so many options for you! We've laid out some ideas, but like past versions I definitely expect to be blown away by how the community continuously improves on the ideas and figure out what works best. This one will also vary the most depending on your location in the world. [1]



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