Precious Plastic, the Dutch designer Dave Hakkens’ project of upcycling waste machines, is appearing around the world. Proof in Taiwan, during a Sunday workshop in a school with children aged 4 to 7.
Taiwan, correspondence (text and photos)
In Tainan, historical and cultural heart of Taiwan, at the An-Shun school located in a priority education area, about twenty children aged 4 to 7 gathered in school one Sunday afternoon at the end of May 2016 to learn to play with plastic and give it a new life.
The session begins with an educational tool combining theatre play, role play and treasure hunt. Everything revolves around plastic, its chemical components, their respective toxicity level, its impact and harmful effects on the environment. Collection, recycling and even a new life, more useful and more honest, are presented to the children and their families.
The workshop is part of the Precious Plastic international project from Dutch designer Dave Hakkens who proposes an entire machine, or rather a set of machines dedicated to the upcycling of plastic. You cannot buy them, you make them. All the necessary documentation for their realization is online on the Precious Plastic website.
The unique Precious Plastic machine of Taiwan was made by a group of students in environmental engineering from the NTU (National Taiwan University). The machine for experimental purposes was then left aside for several months until Rich Chen and Oliver Chang, co-founders of lmpact Hub Taipei,a community of actors dedicated to social innovation, decided to get it back and give it a new life.
The P. Foundry association, the mission of which is to operate this machine for educational purposes, has been sending volunteers since early November, 8 to 12 people according to need, to solicit schools and roam the island in order to set up and multiply workshops such as this one.
After the taster, the children go to the schoolyard, where they discover a set of machines. Each one of them is dedicated to a specific use. The first is a grinder that allows you to obtain plastic shavings and granules from larger pieces collected and cut beforehand.
Then comes the injection machine. The children introduce the shavings into the funnel and retrieve the plastic material directly, in the form of a warm paste. They can then start to play with it and mold various objects.
Last stage, compression, that widens the scope of possibilities by allowing the material to densify, through a heating system equipped with two mallets that come and apply pressure on both sides of the plastic placed inside the oven.
At the end of this workshop, that will have lasted around three hours, the children leave with their own personal productions.
Dave Hakkens, behind the Precious Plastic project but also behind Phonebloks, imagined a documented and shareable process to upcycle plastic throughout the world in DIY mode. Up to each one of us to customize our machines, take ownership of the project, develop uses and applications. Today there are thirty odd Precious Plastic machines around the world.
Precious Plastic, presentation of Dave Hakkens’ project:
The approach of the P. Foundry association is not all that surprising in a Taiwanese society undergoing a social, political and ecological transition. Here, sorting waste is a strong citizen act, inseparable from everyday life. An American military base was even turned into a brand new innovation and recycling center in the heart of the capital.