High volume production or arts and crafts

Hi, so I just wrote about this in my introduction post, but perhaps this is an appropriate place to just discuss approach/ideas for the project…

I would like to start a plastics recycling center in my community, as a form of industry. Almost all of our plastics (along with all our recycling and waste materials) are shipped away from where I live to big landfills or recycling centers far away.

I live in a small, remote community, it is 8 hours drive to the nearest big city, and although many people want to live here, there is not much industry and jobs for people. We don’t have a lot of pollution here, but there isn’t much work either. So I’m looking at it from an economics vantage I guess.

The region I live in, the west Kootenays, is very ‘alternative’. People care about the environment and ethics. I feel like a value-added type precious plastics initiative could be quite successful here. We could educate people and collect plastics directly from individuals, and I think perhaps we could also intercept the regional waste transfer system to stop our precious materials being shipped around the planet…and then back again! Recycle our own plastics within the community… I love this idea! So simply but so revolutionary.

Anyway, my project idea is to live out the brilliant mandate of the precious plastic design… to build and run the recycling center as ‘a business’. To create some products like containers, packaging, household items… With some research obviously, in terms of production costs and marketability for specific objects…

The idea that I’m wondering about is at what scale this system can operate at… I would like to see a small factory that operates consistently. Something that will support employees.

I do realise there are a great many variables with this, and I don’t expect anyone to have answers for me. But any tips to point me in the right direction would be amazing! Opinions, stories, ideas… whatever! All appreciated.

I think the main issue I am trying to understand right now is:

These machines seem to be a bit small, and the process seems fairly time consuming… I am not opposed to this, I think everything about it is wonderful! I am just wondering if anyone has experience in terms of how much time/money investment = marketable products… Given the (I assume) limited production level these machines provide… Would it be better to look into modifying the machines, or focus on the ’boutique’ and ‘artisanal’ nature of the products?

I wonder if it is realistic to expect to recoup operating costs through production, if not the initial start-up/build investment?

Once established, can it be reasonably expected to sustain itself as a business… given that cheaper plastic products will likely always be available elsewhere?!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my -nascent and vague- project “plan”!

Cloé.

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Hey Chloe,

I don’t have answers to a lot of your questions, but I noticed you said you’re in the West Kootenays, so I thought I’d say hello. My name is Aaron and I’m a part of a new student group out at UBC called the Melt Collective https://www.facebook.com/meltcollectiveubc/. We’re heavily inspired by the Precious Plastic project, but we’re interested in anything to do with small-scale ways of recycling plastic. Right now we’re in the process of building our machines, which may or may not end up being ‘orthodox’ Precious Plastic.

I’m more of a tech than a business guy, but I’d definitely say the artisanal angle is the way to go. It’s pretty amazing how beautiful and expensive feeling even crude home-made plastic is, because of the colors and how thick and solid it ends up being. I don’t have any numbers to give you about costs, but I would think that recouping production and even investment costs shouldn’t be a problem with the right product. Making products for the local community is great, but if you’re going for profitability I would look into finding contacts with high-end housewares stores in Vancouver.

I totally agree about the simple revolutionary nature of this project, and while I haven’t been to the Kootenays (would love to!), it seems perfectly suited to the region from what I know of it. It would be amazing for this kind of recycling to replace the primary industry employment that’s sadly dead or dying in a lot of the Cascadian region. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on here or at info@meltcollective.com.

Good luck!
-Aaron

Thanks Aaron, is great to find out about more initiatives in BC!

I realise my questions are pretty broad, I asked them partly just as a way to reach out and engage with the plastics community… like you!

Will be keeping tabs on your project 🙂

Cloé