In a sustainable journey, it’d be nice to have a connection to others who value the same conversations. Actions we make as individuals are important, and talking to others can sometimes help us keep our resolve to continue. Similarly, exchanging with others gets ideas spread to different communities. It seems having people who value the same conversations is like establishing a universe between the people who care.
In this series, called ALL Ways, we’ll grow to know social enterprises by their charming points. We say “charming” to refer to branding and approaches that help us see another way to manage social entrepreneurship. We’ll also suggest ways to interact or use these charming points in our own involvements with social enterprise (personally and professionally).
This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise interaction and engagement.
In today’s post, we look into the priceless Precious Plastic linking a universe of local plastic initiatives. Precious Plastic is a recycling network that empowers communities to build internal recycling systems.
Knowing the Company: Precious Plastic
With a tagline like “Make it precious”, you can already guess that Precious Plastic supports reusing what others may see as trash. Used materials receive new life through innovative machines that turn plastics back into valuable resources. Originally based in the Netherlands, Precious Plastic encourages others to join their mission by setting up shop in local neighborhoods. This is how the initiative is able to spark momentum in communities across the globe.
Building a circular community starts with the idea that everyone is a “recycler”. People find where they fit into the ecosystem by exploring different Precious Plastic Spaces. Here’s a breakdown referencing the official spaces page:
- Precious Plastic workspace is where plastic gets transformed from waste into valuable raw materials or products. There are five different workspaces: Shredder, Extrusion, Sheetpress, Injection and Mix.
- Collection Points gather plastic from neighbors, organizations and businesses to be processed by local Shredder Workspaces.
- Community Points connect and grow the local recycling network. Strengthening the existing community while involving more and more people.
- Machine Shops produce and build parts, machines and molds for others in the local recycling network.
- Precious Plastic members are the ones who fuel the recycling network by helping with plastic collection, spreading the word, purchasing recycled plastic products and supporting in other ways.
- Small ecosystems make up a larger network, which the initiative calls the Precious Plastic Universe. Check out this story-like breakdown they give of how the flow in their universe goes from one point to another.
- Precious Plastic is a project by One Army. One Army gathers like-minded individuals to create projects tackling global problems. They consider themselves as peaceful advocates mobilizing to protect the planet.
What Surprised Us
Members within the initiative’s universe can turn plastics into benches, chairs, tables, shelves, jewelry, bricks, and much more. Amazingly, Precious Plastic provides the step-by-step actions for creating these products. Anyone interested can learn to make unique products from either the initiative’s content or content provided by another member. Actually, there’s a lot the community can learn from the shared content.
Precious Plastic shares ideas for products, and also shares machine ideas that help make the plastic so precious. They create machine designs themselves to recreate plastics into new products, then, they publish instructions on how to make the machines. This allows participants in the Precious Plastic Universe to build the machines independently for use in their local networks. It might make you wonder why they push so much for communities to be so hands-on in the process. A possible answer is that they see recycling as something that gains more momentum if people feel more in control of the contribution being made.
What’s super surprising is that Precious Plastic gives people a path to become a recycler and start a circular economy plastic business. No, really. Explore the Recycling Business page if you want, and you’ll see the general steps they suggest to get into business. Further down, you’ll see that the site links you to the Business tools resource section. Precious Plastic states that some members are making full-time income from running a plastics business. It’s not everyday that a social enterprise has a model that can be duplicated and tap into the same ecosystem of already curated resources.
What is the benefit for good
A plastics recycling ecosystem within local communities establishes the practices and interactions as part of everyday life. What was once unknown could become just another day in the neighborhood; like the distant memories of milk dropped off at doorsteps or newspaper deliveries. The newly thriving community with an economic boost from the ecosystem also gains the benefit of keeping the system local. Plastics, resources, and profits mostly remain within the original community forging a positive loop.
Even if you are not creating products or collecting the plastics, there are many ways to participate in this initiative. A main contribution is engaging with your purchasing power. Bazar is the marketplace to find the plastic creations of the Precious Plastic Universe, which also includes machines, molds, and raw materials. Other ways to join the Precious Plastic Universe, involve meeting people on Discord, browsing the Map to find other Precious Plastic communities, or learning from the Academy. You can find links to these opportunities at the bottom of the Starterkits page of resources to start your Precious Plastic journey.
We like to encourage actively participating with positive initiatives. Each person making their own choice to participate adds up! Whether you engage for fun, inspiration, or expression, here are our suggestions for engaging this initiative:
- Browse through the academy to learn about the plastic ecosystem.
- Pick a “Starterkit” to get yourself into the Precious Plastic Universe.
- Start your own plastics business.
- Learn to build one of the machines from Precious Plastic (or from a community member).
People Helping People Podcast is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community is a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check-in for more conversation-starting content.
Relevant podcast episodes:
- Grow Ensemble’s Cory Ames and Annie Bright Prioritize Quality and Consistency to Develop an Attractive Content Creation Strategy
- Jen O’Ryan of Double Tall Helps Company Staff Expand their Worldview by Sharing Perspectives in a Safe Space
Relevant blog posts:
- 5 Meaningful Tips to Create Authentic Conversations and Develop Connections
- Stage Six Scales Social Impact Locally, Nationally, and Globally with Social Franchise