Every Little Bit Counts – Precious Plastic
As well as being a designer and maker of magical wearable art, I’m choosing to make small and incremental changes in my life and my business to reduce waste.
Now, I’m nowhere near perfect at this, but over time I’m learning more through doing my own research and reading, and have made changes to my parcel packaging (shout out to BioGone Australia!), consciously choosing where I purchase my clothing from, and also like to purchase pantry staples and cleaning products from bulk food stores, rather than the supermarket. 💚🌏
There’s an important topic I want to talk about – and that is plastic waste! As I work predominantly with acrylic (a form of plastic), it is super important to me to make the most out of my material!
My research so far…
Since January 2020, I have been saving all of my offcuts of acrylic since I started using my own laser cutter. I’ve been doing some research into ways I can reuse and repurpose these pieces which would otherwise be considered waste – with the goal being to avoid putting them in landfill.
Real Precious Plastic has been a really good starting point for looking up how to best reuse and recycle household and other plastics such as HDPE (milk bottle tops). If you haven’t heard of the initiative, Dave Hakkens of the Netherlands started Precious Plastic, an open-source plastic recycling project, in 2013. Makers, industrial designers and engineers can build and set up a variety of machines to recycle plastic, with lots of new products being created such as furniture, small homewares and floor tiles!
[below: example of the Precious Plastic shredding and injection moulding machines]
Recently, I’ve connected with some other members of the Australian Precious Plastic community over Discord and via email, and have been in discussions on the online forum, for how to best process my offcuts. There’s some folks blending old, failed 3D prints for melting into new objects, but I think acrylic will be too tough for a blender. Furthermore, before processing any of this material, I need to peel the protective masking off these offcut sheets (peeling party, anyone?) Safety is also a consideration – during the melting process of PMMA (Polymethyl methacrylate), potentially toxic fumes may be released, meaning this is probably a venture I can’t undertake in the small apartment where I live.
[below: offcuts collected by Celestial Closet]
Ideally, I’d like to create new, laserable sheets from my acrylic offcuts! I’ve received a few replies from some Australian plastic recycling enthusiats so far, and will keep you updated on my progress in the coming months!
Other makers making magical things with recycled plastic⠀⠀⠀⠀
UK based jewellery maker Rosa Pietsch has been sharing her experiments with acrylic recycling over at her Instagram account Rosa Pietsch Recycled! Rosa has experimented with casting her acrylic offcuts in resin to create one-off earrings and necklaces.
Lucy Williams from The Offcut Studio is also based in the UK, and previously has worked on some projects with Precious Plastic. Find Lucy on Instagram.
See below for a video of Lucy working creating her recycled acrylic sheets:
I hope this post has helped share some knowledge and allowed more people to discover the world of Precious Plastic. I’ll keep everyone posted on my adventures and new discoveries (COVID has slowed things down a bit) but I’m aiming to launch a recycled acrylic jewellery range by the end of 2020!