You can now literally take a bunch of plastic bottle tops down the street if you live somewhere near Nunawading in Melbourne and have them turned into a vase or a face mask holder. Years after the global Precious Plastics movement launched it is starting to make some serious inroads into local communities with more and more business take up.
The simplicity of the Precious Plastic concept makes you wonder why it has taken so long, but we seem to finally be on our way. In 2013, a guy called Dave Hakkens in the Netherlands published an open source set of plans for a bunch of plastic recycling machines that could be built by pretty much anyone and house themselves in a single room.
The latest entrant is Melbourne coffee pod company, Crema Joe, owned by Piers and Kayla Mossuto who have joined the movement and started a passion project, Precious Plastic Melbourne. Always on the hunt for ways to expand our vision for sustainability, the Mossuto's' decision to join the movement comes after 5 years of helping consumers reduce coffee pod waste via their eco-friendly capsule business Crema Joe.
“UNFORTUNATELY, MOST PLASTICS ARE DESIGNED FOR SINGLE-USE PURPOSES BEFORE BEING DISCARDED, HOWEVER IT’S AN INCREDIBLY STRONG, DURABLE AND VERSATILE MATERIAL. WE’VE ALWAYS FELT VERY DRIVEN TO CREATE POSITIVE CHANGE AND INSPIRE OTHERS TO FIND NEW WAYS TO REDUCE THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT.”
In 2019, the Melbourne residents set about starting up a workshop in their existing warehouse, focusing on collecting plastic lids, not only because they’re typically destined for landfill, but also because they are compact to store, and come in a wide range of colours.
“WITHIN THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF ANNOUNCING THE INITIATIVE, WE WERE CONTACTED BY BUSINESSES AND VOLUNTEERS, OFFERING TO COLLECT THE LIDS.
ONCE THE LIDS ARRIVE AT THE PRECIOUS PLASTIC MELBOURNE WAREHOUSE, THEY ARE CLEANED AND SORTED INTO THEIR RESPECTIVE GRADES OF PLASTIC SO WE DON’T ADD ANY BONDING AGENTS TO OUR PLASTICS. THIS MEANS THAT OUR FINISHED PRODUCTS ARE ALSO 100% RECYCLABLE.”
Once the lids are then sorted into colours, shredded and fed into an injection mould machine to heat, melt and inject the plastic into a mould, creating a new product out of the reprocessed plastic. Products are then allowed to cool before adding any finishing touches. The project quickly outgrew it’s space in late 2019, necessitating the move to a new commercial property in Nunawading. To date, the couple have collected over 300,000 plastic bottle caps.
Specialising in machine building, Precious Plastic Melbourne have since grown their offering to become the go-to for micro-recyclers around Australia. They now also offer services such as manufacturing and tool making, as the industry just isn’t available to smaller scale, lower budget projects. It’s so important that these options are there for community recyclers. So far Precious Plastic Melbourne have had businesses, schools, hobbyists and even community centres asking them to build shredders, sheet presses and injection mould or extrusion machines.
As a passion project, the business is completely self-funded, just 2 people, so they have launched a recurring crowdfunding campaign, which allows everyone to get involved and to support the project. In return, Precious Plastics Melbourne are providing exclusive rewards and perks to subscribers, such as behind the scenes access, personalised reclaimed plastic products and sneak peeks into projects they are working on.
“IN 2021, WE WILL ALSO BEGIN OFFERING WORKSHOPS AND TOURS, AIMED AT SCHOOLS AND INDIVIDUALS, TEACHING PEOPLE ABOUT RECYCLING CONTAMINATION.”
The Precious Plastics model literally melts and reshapes plastic in a mould. Right now, one of the big sellers is Ear Savers and it takes 4 plastic bottle caps to make one ear saver.
When you are done with your Ear Savers or any other recycled plastic product, they can be sent back to Precious Plastic warehouse to be recycled into other products!