New life for plastic waste

Reducing and recycling the growing mountain of plastic waste: this is the aim of the students behind the Precious Plastic Maastricht initiative, in collaboration with Maastricht residents. Precious Plastic recently found a partner in the Werkhuis Maastricht Noordoost, a collection of creative workshops and studios. Together they built a shredder to crush plastic so it can be reused in a new form.

Over the last few months, five team members in varying compositions worked on the home-made shredder, which now stands proudly in the basement of the Werkhuis. “We’d been planning to do something with plastic for some time”, says Werkhuis coordinator Jens Hardy. “And now it’s come to fruition, thanks to the collaboration with Precious Plastic.”

The Werkhuis workshops and studios are open to anyone who wishes to work with arts and crafts. Visitors are also welcome in the living room or the garden for a drink, a chat or to browse through the art and technology books. “We’ve found a great workplace here”, says Emma Prins of Precious Plastic. “It has all the material we need, and we work really well together with the construction team.”

Raw materials

Willy Utens concurs. With Rob Driessen and others, he collaborated on the shredder, a handy device that can grind small plastic parts, such as lids, bottles and plastic containers, into raw materials. “The machine works on normal mains voltage. It’s fairly easy to move, say if you want to give a workshop at a school. The opening is 12 by 12 centimetres and the shredder itself has 14 blades. That allows us to handle many types of plastic.”

Meyke Houben (tekst)

Injection machine

Willy enjoyed working with the students. “I had to get used to speaking English again, but I managed.” With the shredder now complete, he and his colleagues have returned to their work on an injection machine. “We’ll be able to use that to make new, sustainable products from the plastic that comes out of the shredder”, Emma explains. What these products will be is not yet entirely clear. Precious Plastic is looking to other countries for ideas devised by the global community established to boost plastic recycling. “There are plenty of options, from art to everyday implements. But in any event, you need a mould – perhaps that’s something we can collaborate on with designers.”


The ultimate goal is to raise awareness in Maastricht of the growing pile of plastic waste. “You can ship it abroad,” Emma says, “but if you keep it here, at least you know what happens to it. We want to give demonstrations in schools and elsewhere of the kinds of things that are possible using the shredder. And when the injection machine is ready, we’ll ask people to bring their plastic to us for recycling. By that time we need to know what we want to make.”

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