What products not to make

Referring to this post ‘What products to make‘ by @venturedesign, I would like to address a couple of points about the products we make.

First I’d like to say that I agree with most of the points in the post mentioned, especially the idea to avoid making all sorts of trinkets.

When it comes to recycled product design for Precious Plastic, it is important to remember the main idea (at least in my opinion) – useful products can be made of recycled plastic, leaving less plastic to lie around.

After reading a bunch of posts and checking out what people make out of plastic, I came to a conclusion that some of these items people make are not quite useful.

In my opinion, the products we make should not be small and easy to lose. Ideally these products should be made of only one material (sorry concrete plastic bricks), to have a chance of being recycled. Mixing types of plastic and/or adding other elements like plaster, rubber, wood, concrete etc. should be avoided as the only way to recycle those is by burning.

We should probably also look into maximizing the amount of plastic used per item. This makes a Jenga block, made of recycled plastic, a good example of such a practice. Extruding profiles is another good example, as a lot of plastic is used in one product.

What do you guys think? Does that make sense to you? Am I on the same page as you?


Hi jegor-m and all others!

I completely agree with you on the useful part. It takes quite some effort in multiple ways to produce a new product from recycled plastic. In order to prevent that those products are tossed away easily, it’s important to make stuff that are of real value to people. Stuff for the long term, making their life more comfortable and beautiful. Useful as you call it, yes! Something they really care about and take good care of. For example Wasteboards (http://wasteboards.com/), is a product that you’d buy, because it’s made of recycled plastic and custom made exactly like you want it to look like. If I had one myself I would care for the board and try to get as much of playtime out of it as possible. And when it’s broken or to old, I should be able to come back to the same guys who then can make a fresh new one out of the old one.

I can understand your feeling about the mixing of different products and the problem with recycling it afterwards that comes with it. I don’t necessarily think mixing opponents is bad, because it could possibly create a product that is longer lasting or has other benefits over the original ones we used before and know now. There’s one important condition in my opinion though. It would be highly desirable that we oblige the companies that produce these mixed products to be able to take it back after use and recycle it completely themselves, over and over again. I think that would make companies way more conscious about designing their stuff and how they produce and get them to work way more efficient, using less (raw) materials, what is better for the environment. Plus, it’s a closed loop that suits the modern way of thinking and possibly can cut their costs significantly. Everyone that produces from recycled goods should say, Hi, here’s my product, thoughtfully designed and produced. If it brakes or when you’re done with it, bring it back, because it’s part of my responsibility that comes with producing it and I can use it again.

A little bit an off topic addition maybe, but still an interesting thing that got my attention in the book ‘Blue Economy 2.0’ by Gunter Pauli, is where he describes that a company like Nestlé could make more money on ascribing the right value to their coffee-grounds waste product by using it as a base to grow mushrooms on that can be used as cattle food. Instead of saving costs by cutting jobs, underpaying the farmers as much as possible and so on. But they just say, we’re into producing coffee and that’s it, we’ll continue burning it. That’s why there has to occur a change in the way we see our ‘waste’, because it can hold a tremendous amount of value money-wise and new opportunities when used in the right way. Plus it creates jobs, makes a fair price possible for the farmers and it boosts the image of the company by the sustainable way of working = adding more value to their brand. I’m sure that would be possible in every type of company, big and small.

An other important last thing we have to keep in mind is that we shouldn’t use the wrong type of plastic for stuff that is used to hold drinks and food. Safety and our health and that of others should be a top priority if you ask me. It’s nice to have a flashy rainbow coloured mug or food container, but not when it’s adding toxic stuff to the edible content. At least not when you don’t want to turn into a unicorn after a while or so.

I’m curious about what other people think of the subject. Looking forward to hear it! Greetings, Rowin

Hello just thought I’d share. I put a lot of thought into this before even getting started. Take care of plastic waste without creating more? No.1 collaborate with artists and creative designer’s. Good art is supposed to last forever and stand as a monument to our success, and failure so future generations understand the implications of mankind’s ability to create while destroying.

No. 2 start small and let it snow ball. Try to get all coffee shops in the area to standardize the size of coffees. So we can introduce recycled coffee mugs/cups that people bring back for refills, and a cheaper coffee. But people will need to adjust and that takes time.

No. 3 think global human habits. We all eat, sleep drink and repeat. There’s the answer right in front of you. I’ve seen the small charcoal water filters. Getting around this site. Excellent idea but make it big enough for a home or family. Partner with people trying to get this all over the world, and get rid of waterborne disease save lives. FOOD. Everyone needs food. Our current system of transporting food all over the globe is unsustainable. Start designing aquaponics setups that don’t rely on fossil fuels. But grow food using 80 per cent less water than traditional industrial farming. 100 percent pesticide free totally organic. Even if half the people in your town or city used this it would feed the other half. Each aquaponics setup grows it’s own ecosystem good for the planet, seems we keep destroying ecosystems everywhere. In summation yes I’m a dreamer and proud of it. Oil is finite and almost gone so let’s turn it’s byproducts into a sustainable future for our children’s children and take control out of the hands of polluters for profit.

This is a great article. Making building materials such as plastic bricks similar to huge Lego blocks and Roof tiles, walk way tiles and window frame sections. CLear plastic could possibly be used for window panes. I am looking at a possible planned community for tiny homes with residents working part time on community projects and the rest of the time is for them to work on private projects.
The whole thing is still in the early stages of development. Recycled plastic and other materials could go a long way to making it feasible.
In the post there is mention of adding sand for roof tiles and I assume walk ways. There was a concern that these items could not be recycled. Maybe a different type of grinder could be developed. These Hybrid items could be recycled into similar products at the end of their useful cycles?

I believe one of the best ways to succeed financially, and in terms of plastic recycling impact, is to create products that exist in a closed loop life cycle. An example might be prescription bottles. Ignoring the fact that there are probably a ton of rules about the type and condition of the plastic used in a prescription medicine bottle, I’ll try to explain a loop. Customer buys prescription in a plastic bottle, they finish the prescription and drop the bottle of to you, the precious plastic warrior. You then wash, repair, or remake the bottle as needed, and sell it back to the pharmacy for reuse. And the cycle repeats. You get continual sustained business, build great relationships, and keep plastic pollution from making its way into our beautiful ocean and earth.

Plastic is not the strongest, most enduring type of material, and its economical to make, which is why so much of it ends up as waste.

The things plastic has going for it is that its malleable, and its everywhere. I think there has got to be balance between trying to make products out of plastic that go beyond single use, and recognizing the fact that most plastic products in there useful form have an shorter life span than those made of other materials.

I agree with most the points made here. We don’t want to take plastic garbage and recycle it into something that will become more plastic garbage in the future. But, Precious Plastic is great for making recycling feel sexy and accessible in order to gain interest in the movement for solving the plastic pollution problem. For example, we brought our shredder and injectors to an Adidas event (in partnership with Parley for the Oceans) where over 20,000 people attended and we were recycling plastic cups and coffee lids into Adidas keychains. There was over a 2 hour wait during most of the event. Most of these people wouldn’t have cared at all about recycling and plastic pollution, but by seeing the products recycled right in front of them, it was clear that it was very eye opening for many and I would only believe that we helped to drive awareness to the scale of the problem and make some people change their behavior. But, as we have created a shredder and injector and started recycling PP, PS, HDPE, and PLA, it has left me questioning if that is the right thing to do at scale. I still think yes, at least until we have better solutions and convince companies to stop making products out of plastics and using single use plastic packaging and containers.

In the ideal world, we would:
1. Come up with real solutions to help all companies transition their products and product packaging from plastics to other more sustainable materials built based on renewable resources or change the ecosystem to be based on reusables made out of more durable materials like glass and metals.
2. Work with governments around the globe to ban use of plastics (definitely single use, but ideally all plastics)
3. We collect all plastics ever made, and take them out of circulation by recycle them into beautiful protected monuments that will become tourist attractions indefinitely and never torn down.

Ok, back to reality. I throughly agree that we should make it a goal as a community to :
– not build things that will have a short life
– make things that people will want to keep and will be highly visible to help drive awareness to the plastic pollution problem
– put recycling logos onto anything we build and inform anyone who receives the products how they can be properly recycled (or be willing to take them back at the end of the use)
– use the interest in the project to drive awareness to get people to refuse plastics in the products they use and by
– refuse busying things made out of plastics ourselves (as much as is possible, because unfortunately some things currently just don’t come in anything but plastics)

I think we need a section on how to design with circular economy principles. All of us have different skill sets. Maybe a set of principles needs to be established.
I work on these sets of principles
1.major impact – take out as much plastic as possible ( infrastructure type products like pipe or beams or housing
2. make products that can be recycled into new things or repurposed ( modular design )
3.come up with allernatives to phase out plastics ( biopolymers that can be breakdown)
What do you guys think? Can we add more to this?

There are 2 sides to the idea though. Recycling and recyclable. Ideally both are the aim, but in the mean time either is better than none, so lets not dismiss people that only go so far as recycling, it is a good first step. I think that most people (here) will be in a situation where they are intercepting a small percentage of the plastic that is passing them on the way to landfill or hopefully other recycling facilities, and that traffic will continue after they and their machines have given up the ghost.
So one thing that does come to mind is that all products should be marked with the relevant plastic identifier.

Best topic ever !!! More for the discussion who result than the subject but next post from the community will be really interesting.
Thank’s @jegor-m !

My vision is a little bit different of you. I totally agree what @andyn say. But in one side, you put the project of dave in question…

I was one of this guy thing about it’s really easy and the tool of precious plastic have many possibilities.

I don’t want put all my opinion i should be to have 2 hours for make this post.

I understand why you say this. And i’m little bit confus because i’m right in it ! I make small stuff but for a different reason.

I thing the question you open need an answer from all workspace. Then we can studie the impact and wich reel utilisation the people make with the P.P Project.

Have you 50’000 euro ? we can ask for a LCA at https://quantis-intl.com/

But just for start, i’would like to say something. Same if the LCA ( Life Impact analyse) of P.P. is bad, dave show something really big !

Communication is the first key and he saw a positiv communication have real impact ! To much turtle with a straw in the nozzle, to much stomac of bird with. The only result of this one result people enter in denial process and forget about thinking about the problem.

Yea we can analys the story of P.P for many hours ! @andyn make a really good analys but there are some good result behind the bullshit stuff who append like…. Sell T-shirt per example….

I really enjoy the day of we organized the G8 of P.P. some where in europe !



Agreed 99%. Not convinced we should ‘dump’ as much plastic as possible in to one object… it is ‘precious’ right? The world has enough fidget spinners and pencil holders.

We’re aiming for products that are very specific to an area where we’re most familiar: homesteading, small farms, organic ag. A shop of our size may be able to make an impact if we aim to make one product very well. Innovation is hard.

I’d rather work non recyclable products if they are long lasting, such as using sand mixed with plastic to create paving stones, roof tiles, etc… The downside of this is it’s considered downcycling into something that cannot be reused/repurposed easily.

Great article. I fully agree with both of you!
But all we here are struggling with results not reason. Because reasons are our greatest manufacturers. They dont care about ecology/future they care only about them self in now time. And we could not impact on them.
Thats why we should do all we can on our little side of struggling with results.

Exactly right @jegor-m

I also think many people have embarked upon building one or more of the machines because they think they are ‘doing their bit to save the planet’, but actually they have no clear idea what they are going to do with the machines if they ever complete them. So if they don’t give up half way through when they discover it’s actually much more expensive/complicated than they thought, then their only option if they do finish will be to make ‘trinkets’. And if they do give up, then all they have done is waste time, energy and resources and had the opposite effect to their goal of being ‘green’.

When considering what is actually useful vs a trinket, I think we also need to consider the time and effort that goes into producing each one, and unless you plan to produce many thousands, this must also include the time/cost of building the machines. If I were to make 50 useful items after building a shredder and injection moulder, but then decide that actually it’s not worthwhile, how much has each one really cost vs what is would have cost to have acquired a similar item from elsewhere?

Also when considering the worth of an item. I might make a trinket, but consider it to be unique and priceless to me, but this is not a true measure of it’s value, somebody else might think it worthless melted plastic trash. If I make 50 more identical items, unless I am very careless or forgetful, they can’t all be useful to me. The true value of an item is what it’s worth to the typical person, and has to be compared with similar readily available alternatives.