We are Precious Plastic York and we want to kickstart the plastic revolution in York. We are raising money for our own machinery so that we can recycle our own plastics, we want to inspire the shift from a linear to circular economy, transforming plastic waste to locally produced sustainable designs – anything from coasters to building bricks!
We successfully ran a crowdfunder in Autumn 2020 raising the first £7500 needed to launch our project. We are busily working behind the scenes to make the best use of the money raised so far and start procurement of the machinery.
We want Precious Plastic York to be a community space inspiring change; giving people the experience and tools they need to continue to rethink waste.
We are the St Nicks Recycling Team. We collect residential and business recycling from premises all over York. We collect over 35 tonnes of recycling a month on load bearing tricycles and fully electric vehicles. So we have the hands on experience (and access to plenty of materials!) to make this project happen, along with our colleagues and other partners. Each of us is passionate about waste minimisation, the environment and what we can do to make the world a little bit better. From top left: Sam Taylor (Waste & Recycling Manager), Marc Hodgson, Stuart Watling, Rebecca Dunn, David Hammond and Charlotte Hanson.
Have you ever noticed the litter that is piling up in your local river or stream?
If you’ve ever walked down the beautiful Yorkshire coastline, you’ve probably been disgusted by all the litter washed up on the beach. But where does it come from? It’s likely that some of this has come from the sea, but most of what you’ll see has actually been washed down from our rivers.
Is there one place to blame? Absolutely not. Beach litter doesn’t start at the beach at all. In Yorkshire’s case, it’s
easy to blame Hull, close to the coast with the river Humber feeding out into the North Sea. But while certainly, some litter originates there, the problem actually begins much earlier. The Humber is formed by the river Trent, which starts life in Staffordshire, and York’s own river Ouse. Problem solved – York’s to blame for the littered beaches.
Most plastics are used for mere minutes but will last in our ecosystems for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. Not only are animals physically consuming and getting entangled in plastics the plastics can release harmful compounds such as hormone disruptors and carcinogens. These chemiclas, and the physical microplastics then get passed up the food chain (termed bioaccumulation) meaning the top predators such as whales are accumulating the highest levels of contaminants. Unfortunately it’s been found that humans are eating plastic too. Microplastics have been found in seafood, salt and water!
Only 2% of packaging becomes new packaging, 8% is downgraded into lower quality materials and the rest is either sent to landfill or incinerated and then sent to landfill! Now we think plastic can be an amazing material – without it many of the things we take for granted today wouldn’t be possible (sterile surgical appliances anyone?).
The solution: Precious Plastic York
We will work with an engineering firm to design and build plastic recycling machinery based on the open source designs available from Precious Plastic. Precious Plastic is a global initiative helping local people solve local problems. We believe that if people can get hands on and understand the processes involved they might rethink their opinions on waste and see it as the resource we know it is.
We hope to build a plastic shredder, an extruder and a plastic injector. This will enable us to make brand new products out of the plastic we are recycling, which in turn can still be recycled at the end of their life. We hope to inspire and educate people to see that a circular economy – where nothing gets thrown away, everything can be reused and repurposed – is better than our current systems. In an ideal world this will kickstart momentum towards zero waste in York, as people see for themselves that the processes don’t stop once you’ve thrown an item in your bin.
We hope to get the public, school and children’s groups involved on site, through hands on workshops and education sessions. We will also be inviting designers, innovators, universities and engineers to come and play with our machinery to fully explore all the possibilities. The sky’s the limit: jewellery, tree guards, planters, ethical trophies, tiles, bird feeders, beams and bricks for building use are some examples of items we expect to be able to make.
Products we design and make will be sold to invest in new machinery and to subsidise the cost of the workshops keeping them accessible for all.
How will this help?
Recycling is great but there are better waste reduction solutions. This project has at least five waste reduction aims:
Who is involved?
We are working with the Biorenewable Development Centre to ensure all processes involved are 100% safe, this will also reinforce our ability to educate the public about material sciences for instance, why some plastics can be recycled and other seemingly similar materials cannot.
The Bishy Weigh have also backed our project offering to stock products that promote zero waste in York.
Treligan are supporting our project, as an organisation who pride themselves on focusing on the “worst problem first” – we are so excited to be able to work with them on the plastic problem.
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Get in touch if you would like to stock Precious Plastic York products at your shop