Hello Precious Plastic community! I’m new here. I apologize up front for the big piece of text 🙂
Who am I?
I’m a young Dutch guy from the Eindhoven region with a love for recycling systems. I recently graduated from Business University and saw my freedom as a chance to travel around Southeast Asia. This journey made me realize how many people do not have access to a system to properly discard and recycle waste, and what the impact of this is worldwide.
According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, about 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. 6.3 billion metric tons of this has become plastic waste and of that, only 9% has ever been recycled. The sheer numbers are simply terrifying. Especially when you think that all this plastic waste ends up in the air (through burning), in/on the ground, or in the water. Coupled with population growth and increased production levels, the world needs to realize that we simply cannot continue on this path. We need to either replace plastic with more biodegradable materials, or close the waste circle.
While I was traveling I came up with all these ideas for closing the waste stream. I also started looking online. It made me very happy to find Dave’s Precious Plastic project. Somebody is already working to solve this problem in an awesome, open-sourced way. Moreover, this guy is from close to my own home town! I thought to myself: “Great! So what can I do to help him?”
I don’t really have the technical knowledge needed for machine building or the chemistry knowledge to find new applications for discarded plastic. But I think precious plastic already has many people with these skillsets..
So what does precious plastic need?
Users! In order for Precious Plastic to make a significant impact, we need many people worldwide to use this awesome system! And this is a field where I do have skills. In business school I basically learned how to make a significant global impact in our contemporary capitalist system.What Precious Plastic needs is a good Business Plan.
“But wait, there already is a Business Plan!?”
That’s true, there is funding from donations, patreon and multiple international foundations. Furthermore, people with a recycling workshop now have the online Bazar to sell their products. So that’s great! But that’s not what I mean. We need to give people the knowledge and tools to make their workspace profitable. Just like the precious plastic website gives people the technical knowledge to build the workspace, machines and products, it should also give people the business knowledge to make their workspace successful.
“Profit!? Sounds so capitalistic…”
I know that Precious Plastic is not like a traditional company where it’s all about earning profit. However, in order for the project to grow, each workspace needs it’s economic viability. An organization that mainly depends on donations and volunteers just doesn’t grow fast enough. When a workspace is able to make substantial profit this money can be used to increase awareness, scale up production or give something back to the community that puts hard work into making this project work. Simply put: profit serves to be reinvested in the project to have a growing impact. This is called Sustainable Business.
What would I like to do?
Together with a dedicated team, I would like to set up an all-round, openly available business plan that the Precious Plastic community can use to start increasing their local impact. I believe that business and operations are crucial points of knowledge that all workspaces need. The problem is of course, that every workspace is in a different situation. Different situations mean different business plans. The challenge is to create one that is like a template. A business plan containing general information that can be used by everyone to suit their local needs. This can then be incorporated into precious plastic version 4.
What this plan will look like
The rollout of this plan will have to happen on two levels. Globally and locally. On a global scale Precious Plastic needs to evolve by providing the new information through a book or web app. Furthermore, Precious Plastic needs partnerships to grow. An example of a mutually beneficial business partnership would be Ikea. Ikea could sell locally made precious plastic items in their stores worldwide. For precious plastic this would increase awareness and sales and for Ikea it would be a good CSR opportunity.
On a local scale there will be three template business plans. One for workspaces, machine builders and people that want to get started. For each of these a different business template is needed, but at the same time they are also all connected. Machine builders serve as a hub, from where all the workspaces can be supplied with machines and moulds but potentially also many other things needed to set up and operate a workspace.
The spokes of this system are the workspaces. The workspaces need to set up an infrastructure for collecting plastic, spread awareness, find retailers, get workers and volunteers etc. etc.. Of course every local shop already has its own ways and ideas, so the business plan mainly serves as a guideline, asking people whether they’ve taken everything in account and providing them with the tools to do finance, accounting, marketing, supply chain etc. An example of a great thing that precious plastic global can offer to workspaces are poster designs that workspaces can print hang around the community to raise awareness.
Finally, people that want to get started get a guide to setting up their workspace, not only in a technical sense, but also from a business perspective. Furthermore, they should be brought into contact with their local machine builder where they can buy the materials they need. Since Precious Plastic is a tight, high trust community it would be possible for machine builders to do local sales on a loan. The machine builder will provide moulds and machines to the workspace while keeping ownership. The workspace then can start turning profit and pays the moulds and machines back within an agreed upon time. If the workspace pays the machine builder back completely (this can be done at once or in installments) the workspace gets the ownership over the machines. If the workspace does not manage to raise enough funds within the set time the machine builder can come to an agreement with the workspace to extend the payback time or to take back the machines. The advantage for the machine builder is that he will be able to set up more workspaces, and sell more machines, since people do not need high initial funds to set up a workspace. On the other hand it will be easier to set up a workspace and the community as a whole will grow quicker. Of course this can only happen when there is high trust between the machine builder and workspace and if the machine builder is financially able to sell machines on a loan.
These are just a couple of ideas but an overall structure is needed covering everything from finance to marketing to human resources and value chain management. The overall goal would be to get this global community to work in unison and for the movement to grow into making a significant worldwide impact.
How would I like to do this
These are just a few ideas for things that could be incorporated in a business plan. However, it is far from being a complete business strategy. For this, I would first like to meet with Dave in his workspace to talk about the business side of precious plastic and his vision for the future (if you are reading this Dave, hit me up!). After that I will need a team of people that each focus on a specific aspect of this plan to write a beta version. Then, each of the team members, including me, would have to go volunteer at a few workspaces all over the world to find challenges, flaws and new ideas. After that the plan can be updated into its final form and published online for the whole world to use.
I am really excited to help precious plastic grow their global impact and I’m totally willing to put my own time and effort into this project because I can learn so much and have such a positive impact. Also, I’m sure I can find like-minded people in the community that could help me make this idea a reality. I would really like to hear what you guys think and I’m always open for ideas and suggestions.
This sounds great as I’m working on setting up that as a viable business in my area. I’m setting up under local nonprofit, but finding machines is hard. I’m wondering if I can use all Dave’s web info of if that’s a copy write issue. I know you’re not the person to ask, Im responding to give you more idea of what the needs are. Thank You and good luck , I like your proposal.
Hello, this is a great idea! Willing to invest some time by offering assistance if you need it. Would be an asset to the community to have a well presented uniform business plan
Sounds great, gather a team and drop by! 🙂
FYI. Precious Plastic doesn’t necessary needs a business plan, we can kinda sustain ourselves. But we would love to provide it for each member of the community. Love it if people that start a workspace can make a living out of it! If we can make that process easier i’m in
Are you interested to help our project in Nias, Indonesia?
I am based in Rotterdam and want to set up a running business in Sorake, Indonesia.
I have visited community plastic Rotterdam and this week a workshop in Den Haag.
Any idea is appreciated :-).
I must say I’m very impressed by your post. I am from Ireland and am investigating potential business ideas in the recycling area. I love this site and everything precious plastic is doing but the key thing for me too was that it needs to be converted into a viable business in order to really grow and have an impact.
I would love to chat to you more about the idea of creating a business plan and offer my help. I have previously started and ran by own retail/online sales business and also have several years of management consultancy experience.
If you want to chat more please give me a shout.
All the best
Thanks for the replies everyone! I am incredibly happy to see that my idea has fallen on fertile ground. The next step is to make some work of it! For this we need a team. We need people with expertise on
– Finance & Accounting
– Operations & Product Strategy
– Value Chain
– Marketing & Branding
– Management & Human Resources
– Community & Shared Value
– Global Networks & Strategy
– App/Book Design
If you can help or if you just want to think along, please send me a personal message and I will provide you with an introduction sheet and a sign-up form. After you decide to sign up you will become part of the team and can help create the content we need to significantly increase the worldwide impact of precious plastic.
I hope to hear from you!
It would be FANTASTIC to have a business plan- completely agree that viability is critical.
Even better if there could be a version for Developing Country context where the waste issue can cause cholera and municipalities can’t even deal with waste let alone recycling. The added twist is that technology and energy are expensive, whereas labour is cheap and abundant (and in need of meaningful work). Letting communities see Waste has value would create an important shift in mindsets.
One tiny word, I’d encourage your business plan to be shorter than your post. Your enthusiasm is so great but realistically long text is a disincentive to action for busy people.
Let me know how I can help.
i’m on bali, have a nice plan
Hello ! I am from China. In China, NGO / NPO have very limited channels for fund-raising, and in many aspects, they lack legal guarantees. Therefore, I think that it is more feasible to run the project about Precious Plastic by building up a commercial company. However, there is still a lack of a suitable business model. Only rely on the sale of recycled plastic products is uncompetitive, because ordinary plastic products of better quality, the price is cheaper. So I am currently thinking of a business model that combines recycled plastics with education and entertainment.
Interesting business model by Plastic collective Australia, they make a shruder and sell it with all services included.
Let’s do it in Italy!
great thread! i would suggest start using the Business Model Canvas (BMC) as a starting point.The people that already started a business in the plastic recycling could share their BMC with the community. A 2 minutes video on BMC can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoAOzMTLP5s
Hey everyone! Thanks so much for the contributions! Big and small everyone has been a big help so far. I’m just writing a little update so you guys know what I have been up to in the meantime and what is coming up next.
So, first of all I have been gathering ideas. I structured my own ideas, gathered ideas from the community and brainstormed with several people around me. In the end I put all of this together and made a presentation. Then I went to Helmond to meet Dave in his workspace. It was really good for me to be able to see, touch and feel everything that I’ve been thinking about in the months before. Also talking to Dave was a huge reality check. As expected, some ideas sound great in practice but talking to someone who has a lot of experience with this makes you realise that they will probably not work. Together we filtered the ideas into things that can be incorporated in version 4, and things that I can work on right now. I’ll give you guys a selection of what we came up with:
For version 4:
– Increase information given about how to do business. This is already marked as coming soon on the website under ( start > extra )
– Setting up information hubs and local forums to strengthen local networks and answer questions.
– Scale up the network in some areas by adding people that specialize in one specific part of the process. Examples are: plastic collection points, sales points, or shredding facilities.
– Encouraging workspaces to partly outsource things like collecting plastic or selling products (part of the last step)
– Possibly help people with getting funding opportunities
– Introducing online workspace profiles with concrete data and communication possibilities. Possibly through a mobile app
Things I am working on right now:
– Writing a business chapter for the precious plastic starter manual. This is based around the business canvas, which will be included.
– Creating a calculator tool in excel which can be used to calculate things like expected break-even-time, or initial investment needed. This mainly serves to make sure people keep everything in consideration and to let them play around by entering different situations and seeing how the results change. An excel tool for bookkeeping should also be added later on.
This is where I will need your help again. Once I have written down all the information that should be added to the manual in the business chapter I need the community to have a thorough look at it, see what is relevant and what not. What should be added and what should be changed or left out.
Also, as of now I need someone with good excel skills to help me make the calculator and bookkeeping tools.
Thanks for taking part in this wonderful community! Hoping to hear from you.
Not sure if you have found the excel person you are looking for or shown the community the manual but I wanted to express my interest to help. I am the founder of a recycling charity (so I understand excel/money) and am currently setting up a community-run project in Dominica.
I currently use a series of excels I developed in my previous job as a Project Manager for an international non-profit.
That’s a big project you’re up for Siemen!
Thanks a lot for the effort you put into making this happen.
Greetings from Berlin!
Hey @siemenb thanks for the post and great enthusiasm. And indeed, we do need to develop a proper business plan to help people become financially self-sufficient and help clear doubt to people that want to get started.
As you will find with your research a big obstacle to this (or at least that we found) is within the opensource nature of the project. Let me explain, we offer one way of doing things in a particular place of the planet. Some people reproduce it exactly the same. But a great number of people have to adapt their machines, outcomes and products to their contexts.
This creates a huge number of different variables which can conflict with the creation of a single business plan that fits everyone.
But again, we’re not big on business as you probably have guessed. You probably can come up with an applicable solution. Really hope so 🙂
@siemenb are you still around? do you have documented your research ? My ears are wide open. I’m a voluntary machine builder, initially but i realize my clients seem also have no idea what to do with their 5000 Euro machine setup. Doing some cups, plates and chairs isn’t exactly worth the work and extreme high invest, IMHO….
I think the business plan doesn’t differ much from those who do micro manufacturing at home. Having all those machines and plastic recycled ready for production represents only 30% of the whole operation. To make a living, you need lots networking, lots of time to design, prototyping and test a feasible product and in any case, it requires another 3000 – 5000 Euro for more machinery. I just asked today for ‘suite-able’ products here.
On the marketing, networking & accounting side I hope the PP teams comes up with something. I hope they replace the bazar with something more adequate, think of a reseller or hub. That way users don’t need to worry to much at their starting phase:-)
It would also make a huge difference if we have reliable and cheap source for machines. At the moment, Everyone is left to proprietary & overpriced machines and even sharks… If PP can manage to build per continent a source for shredder, mold production, etc… the entry ‘fee’ could be reduced down 60%, per machine.
Until then we just can hope the community comes up with reproducible success stories, IMHO 🙂
Instead of partnering with Ikea, you could create a business plan for resellers. In place of investing in machines, they would invest in setting up a store and buying products from near workspaces as well as bridging special requests from clients to providers.
It means a new feature on the website (hellooo @katharinaelleke), the Precious Plastic platform would be the hub that @mc007 requests. There, users would be able to meet resellers and providers.
I like it because physical stores give greater exposure to Precious Plastic potential clients and avoid international shipping as the resellers buy their products from local workspaces. On the web, people just repeat themselves over and over, keep inside their own bubble and, in reality, they don’t actually choose what they are going to see when they go out shopping.
In fact, not everybody needs to recycle plastic to be part of it, as @davehakkens says on his videos.
Let me know what you think!
Also, this way we would “empower” people to create more small businesses instead of making those big companies (Ikea, eBay…) richer.
Hello @siemenb !
Indeed a very interested thread here 😉
If i can share my experience, i have my own company since 8 years now and there ARE certain things to get through before launching yourself in the adventure (profesionnally?)
You need to take in account all the different expenses (rent, salary,electricity etc..)
But the hardest is to know how the money will come in the business.
What kind of income are you going for?
Artistic : only brains sets the limits (what type of product? what technique? what type of plastic? who will buy? at what price?)
Functionnal : beams, 3D print filament or construction material (specific type of client,maybe engineering certification needed? bigger machines?)
Pure recycling : schredd & wash and resell (to other PP artists or functionnals? bigger compagnies? what price?)
How effecient are you going to be doing such or such specific task in your business such as plastic schredding, plastic washing, testing, making your products, then communicate around your products, sell your products (arrange all the logistics w/ the product delivery), get paid & pay yourself?
Now all this Precious Plastic community is much bigger than just a business model; it’s a world crisis we’re facing and indeed a certain economy can and i am sure WILL and IS rising through all of us.
As said earlier i have a company since a couple years; my challenge now is to make a complementary activity rise through Precious Plastic. Though i still have no machine yet (i have a modified compression system), i have started doing a LOT of research about plastics, and experimenting through my little system. It made me lead (as for today :p) to a sort of paving system.
So, i very positive results on plastics 2/4/5/6 (having issues with 1:PET and milk bottles HDPE) to do a paving system using 3 different Moulds. At the moment with the system i have, i can produce 1hexa or triangle or 2/3 hexa per around 30-40min; i have no idea how much they would be worth to sell, and i need to research on french legislation regarding plastic pavings (if there is any :o)
oh and before i forget : “The problem is of course, that every workspace is in a different situation. Different situations mean different business plans”
Indeed this is a VERY important point, the activity your PP business will have in a developped country is VERY different than in countries where recycling is unaccesible.
And one LAST thing, what’s amazing with this business plan thinking, is that there is work for EVERYONE, no fear for competition before a long time !
sorry for long post (don’t have potato gif sry)
edit: imo, you can’t sell a business plan to your client, it’s a personal choice to be made step by step (also, you wouldn’t want to be responsible to have sold a business plan to a client who failed because he was too lazy to do this or that)
Thanks for the replies everyone! Great to see the community agrees developing the business side is what can make precious plastic grow through the roof!
Indeed the concern from the beginning on was how to write something which is applicable to every workspace in every possible environment. This is why I use the business canvas. I adapted it especially for precious plastic workspaces (see image)
I agree that in order to have a profitable workspace, you need to have a seriously good product idea. One competitive advantage of precious plastic products is that they are good looking and long lasting. Still, I definitely urge everyone to spend a lot of effort on developing a proper value propsition before getting started. Thanks for opening a topic for this! I’m interested to see what the community will come up with.
I 100% agree that more specialization will allow the precious plastic network to greatly expand. When some people specialize in reselling products, or collecting and shredding plastic, the people in the workspace will have more time to experiment and make stuff. A webpage or app can indeed be used to facilitate this network in a peer-to-peer fashion. A prerequisite of this network building is that there are already enough workspaces in place to build the network around.
Thanks for the input! Great work. I agree that setting up any profitable small business is difficult and, like Mattia also mentioned; every situation is different. Precious plastic should definitely not tell people exactly what to do and when to do it. The idea is rather to challenge people to take all the important things in consideration, and make sure their plan is well thought through before they get started.
I hope I’ve answered all of your questions!
Keep em coming 😉
@siemenb: that’s just great, happy to see you back.
could you please upload the picture again in readable resolution ?
to find suitable products (which set the machine requirements, power consumption), I’m wondering how to look at it. Small objects won’t for instance fit in a green policy, they easily land back in the trash and also fall faster down to the ocean floor, as awful small and deadly particles.
bigger objects are usually more treated with care, making them ‘precious’ to the consumer seems really tricky, in the bazar there are good examples of it.
the current injection/extrusion machinery as deciding say for follow up manufacturing seems pretty much our biggest bottleneck, do you agree ?
after solving this, we should be able to make larger objects, to make them precious, we could make kid toys (is lego possible ? ). these things are given from mother to mother,… the point here is that pp products need to full fill some criterias.
do you think we should insist on such ‘ green ‘ policies first ? the next one could be a time limit so art objects won’t be allowed en mass as we have now
About collecting, sorting and shredding… maybe we can do some good partnerships!
David speaks really
slowly well on this TED talk about his project, the Plastic Bank. I’m quite impressed with the idea and I feel glad they are starting here in Brazil, I will definitely dig into it and get involved.
They created an open-sourced extruder for 3d printing filament and want people to start building it, buying Social Plastic and selling or using the filament produced by themselves. You can find the drawings of the extruder here.
Basically, they are pretty aware that they are selling Social Plastic to big companies (which are helping them take people out of the grips of ultra poverty and clean the environment!) that will keep producing single-use shit and rapidly trash those countries again.
So, they want people with plastic recycling machines to buy Social Plastic and make proper use of this great material. Do you know of anybody trying to do that that could help them? :thinking: haha
Connecting Precious Plastic to Plastic Bank is a great deal especially in the developing countries. However, the North has easier access to the machinery.
We can start thinking about pellets resellers, not only products resellers. The pellets resellers would buy (import) shredded plastic in bulk amounts from the Plastic Bank and resell it to Precious Plastic workspaces through their own country.
Moving plastic around may not be good because of CO2 emissions… but we are alleviating three other problems: we give ultra poor people a steady source of income, we remove garbage from the environment and we prevent plastic from getting back to the places it was collected by not creating crap.
Also, Plastic Bank would guarantee a huge amount of shredded plastic right now. In this way, when setting up a new workspace people can skip the shredder (maybe the most sophisticated and expensive machine?) without fear of raw material availability shortage.
Keep me updated, I’d love to join the solution. I’ve just left my 5 business I’ve created which is still up and running (I guess I like new challenges!)
Currently living in SW France by the beach. I’m looking into creating awareness, using beach collected plastic (but I’m open to other sources). I’m open to either a business or non-profit set-up, but viability is the key, and as you have stated, a good business model would help everyone to succeed.
+100 for distributed shredding facilities, despite i am in favour of zero-kilometer-transport policies.
btw. to compete with plastic pellets from ebay seems extreme hard! also those pellets seem to have a really good quality, not even sure this can be done with the machines of PP, on a daily base….
@yuri-fabris, yes, it’s the most expensive thing of the PP machinery: motor, driveshaft, reducer & inverter pushes you into the 900 Euro range. If you’re extreme lucky: 500 Euro and there is no labour or extra materials like couplings, frame, mounts, wirings included yet. and even if you got it all setup, you still have to wonder how long the shredder-box will last. it makes trouble already in the first weeks,… we need urgently to redesign this shredder….
to stay on track with the op’s topic, please take really realistic numbers into account, please never ever ignore the real fees to build this machines, here in spain we pay huge amounts to get something decent. I’m currently unaware of any success stories in the PP community….
Do you read the site news? there is a whole “news” on https://davehakkens.nl/preciousplastic/precious-plastic-in-south-america/
Please stop having such a big fixation on how it works in spain (you know the PP community is worldwide, not just limited to “developped” countries).
Your costs are specific to you local/national position. I don’t even know how a decent “bill of materials” could be done taking in consideration the specifics of each country (ie we can’t access scrapeyards here in france) and overmore the costs you show also implies the paid work of all the time spent being paid; which would ONLY apply if you buy a PP machine already all made.
I’m not saying that you are doing a bad thing constructing and selling different parts of the PP machines; but PLEASE keep in mind that most people will create the machines themselves.
I personnally think it is too early for you to be able to earn enough money by selling the machines. I read you are looking for success stories around PP; why don’t you give it a try ? (since you already have the machines?) What is your interest here ? Only sell PP machines or recycle plastics?
I mean we are right on the spot of the “business plan”‘s issue where you may have not analyzed how the market is functionning around PP. As Mattia posted today https://davehakkens.nl/preciousplastic/bazar/ the bazaar is still not “working” _financially speaking_ correctly. Have you thought of your own business plan on the building/selling of the PP Machines ? It is as much needed as the business plan around PP (from your point of view).
Also, please keep in mind @timhardex you CANNOT take responsibility to sell a business plan to your clients. You can give development axes, but you can not be blamed if people fail around PP Projects.
Hope it helped;
@timhardex here it goes again…
wow, your words are really harsch. i won’t get into your game. if you want to talk about business plan; please let’s do. but can you please stop spitting on all the work & research that has been done until now?
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.