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.
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.
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.Toggle replies
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