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UK project to build and run PPv3 (container)

Javier (Singular MARS) javierrivera

UK project to build and run PPv3 (container)

05/12/2017 at 14:09

Hi all,

I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about how we could realise the Precious Plastic v3 in the UK and I want to see first how many people would be interested in helping! πŸ™‚

Let’s say there’s around 100 people who expressed interest and are in the Precious Plastic map in the UK, that’s not too bad.

I’ll start thinking about writing a business plan, but the general idea that I got is:
Concept: To build and run a mobile workshop (in a shipping container similar to PP or why not in a double decker, to make it more british), with shredders, filament maker, extruder, injection moulding machines and also a 3d printer. An area to collect, sort and wash plastics and an area to sell products. The mobile workshop would spend 1-2 months in a place and move to another city or part of the country. It would interest environmentalists (recycle plastic yourself and create products), beach cleaners (#2minuteBeachClean), makers and artists (make a product yourself, sell it, featured artists), kids and general public (offering tours of the microfactory, talks, school trips), local councils (we’d employ local people), etc. I envision it as being a hybrid between for- and not-for-profit, what I call not-only-for-profit. We may or may not be profitable, we’d pay everyone working for us minimum wage, being the environmental and social impact the most important value over the money. At the same time we’d rely on donations and volunteers.

Finance: I’ll make a budget for the startup costs, let’s say it’s between Β£10-15k, that’s not a lot, very manageable. We can crowdfund it, find investors, ask suppliers for discounts in exchange of promotion, get a loan, ask recycling NGOs for funding, there must also be some startup credits by the government or the EU, if we make a good case for how much social and environmental value there’s here I think we can do it πŸ™‚
For the running costs, we can crowdfund it via patreon or regular donations, ask the local council where the workspace is going to be located for the time being (say one month we bring it to London, another month to Brighton, another month to Bristol, etc. In each place, request to the local council a space to park the container/bus, access to water/electricity which they pay, and also Β£1-2k for the month, which will be directly spent on wages for local people who’d be working on the workspace, so it’s a reinvestment in their own city), and also would be funded by sales of the products made from plastic.

My contribution: I’m really exciting about starting this up! I’m an engineer and I build machines so I control the technical aspect. I’m creative at coming up with technical ideas and how to make this concept possible and I could find partnerships and funding options, pitch, business plan.. However I don’t know what products to make or how to make cool things that sell well, so I need some artists on board and people who understands money, if that makes sense. Someone to run it, organize where the workshop is touring and someone to physically work on it. All these could be done by a couple of people on a payroll or many people volunteering a couple of hours a week.

Anyway, for now that’s my idea, let me know what you think πŸ™‚
For now let’s see who’d be interested in taking part, in any way, so: calling all UK PP community members!


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05/12/2017 at 14:25

I really like the double-decker bus idea, much better than a container for being mobile. But wouldn’t it be ridiculously expensive to drive in London (tax, emissions charge etc)? Maybe some exemption could be claimed for being green? Or just avoid the city?

05/12/2017 at 14:36

Than you for adding me to your post, I’ll get back to you soon about this subject, I agree that something needs to be done to get V3 going. I will get in touch soon @javierrivera

05/12/2017 at 14:53

It would be stationary for a whole month or 2 months, only moving to a different city, maybe we could get an exemption
Or go all the way in and make the bus electric
Furthermore, make it driverless so it can go on its own to the next city overnight
That’s dreaming too much for now haha

05/12/2017 at 15:29

Hi Javier!

I’m in! Great idea! I’ve been discussing this sort of thing recently with an organisation here in Bristol who can potentially help with funding from the EU and other social organisations. We will need to get together a business plan, an idea of all costs, decide on what kind of organisation we want to create. ie. legal structure for example will it be a Unincorporated association, charitable Incorp Org, Community Interest company, company etc. This is important to decide because they all have pros and cons and different potential funding potentials. Depending on what is decided amongst the group we will then need to decide on directors, associate directors to get a bank account for the funding etc. Of course we could also create a company but that won’t get funding from EU etc but could get from a social funding campaign. We will have more control and dont need to justify ourselves as much. So people explore these legal entities.

In terms of designs to sell I have been working a range of items that I am happy to throw into the mix. I now have a CAD model for a surf wax comb, and developing CADs for other items. I’m so glad you posted this as I have been having all these ideas and feeling very lonely!;-) Javier you have my email so if we can get together an idea of costs on the machines we need. Any other potential costs lets put it into a google doc to share amongst the group. I have some quotes already for containers (but a London bus would be ace!) and we can start adding to the document. Let’s start the google doc by asking peoples email who want to get involved so we can share a document to add to for our business case?

Great stuff! Let’s do this!

05/12/2017 at 16:12

I’ve thought about a mobile rig like your bus idea, but how would you propose to get the electricity to run the machines? I still haven’t found a realistic way to become mobile…

05/12/2017 at 16:28


A doubledecker bus with stationary bikes to generate electricity required by the machines)

05/12/2017 at 17:00

Simplest way would be to plug it with an extension cord to a suitable terminal, nothing they don’t do already. Don’t know if you’re thinking about isolated places, but I’m thinking if the container was placed in front of the Tate modern or science museum in London, or in a central park in smaller cities, or near the beachside..

Pedal powered can be explored but humans are very weak and expensive compared with an electric motor..

Thanks Tyrone, I’ll create a collaborative document soon, let’s just bounce the idea here for now and see who’s interested πŸ™‚
I was thinking that being a limited company gives you the freedom to chose if you want to make profit or not or pay dividends to investors or not, but other legal entities can be explored. Definitely social enterprise or community interest company sound like very appropriate

05/12/2017 at 17:14

Yeah, suitable terminal is what I find a challenge. Maybe I’m over-complicating it and I don’t mean to stifle your enthusiasm, but I expect the machines to use quite a bit of electricity, and a simple extension cord from 220V mains on a regular fase fuse might not cut it… I’m thinking of the triphase motor for the shredder, for example, even if on a monophase to triphase variable frequency drive… I’m no engineer, btw, just thinking it through, because I’ve been considering it too πŸ™‚

05/12/2017 at 18:10

Hi @javierrivera,

I’m based in the Caribbean I’m afraid, but I’ve run my own business(es) for over 25 years so if you need any remote input to a business plan or model I would be happy to help.

I also second the need to highlight the power requirement aspect – I did a prelimanry caluculation on the number of solar panels needed to drive the motor for a crucher alone and it’s quite a lot! And then there’s British sunshine πŸ˜‰

Good luck with this project I think it’s a go-er!

05/12/2017 at 18:51

thanks @saminstmartin your input on the business plan will be appreciated πŸ™‚

I don’t see a real problem with power @mariusaraujo , when they install street markets/ fairs, circus or stages in the streets they plug to electrical boxes from the council. Or we can plug it to a nearby commercial building (again thinking of somewhere not isolated, like next to the tate modern museum). A commercial building should have enough power to allow for these, we’ll calculate it anyway

Also it’s not a massive amount of energy I think.. for heating we can use gas and worst case scenario, a portable diesel generator (not environmentally friendly), but that only makes sense in remote areas..

05/12/2017 at 19:29

im definitely in, ive been needing to start something like this for some time, just im not really entrepreneur but il do what i can to help, shipping containers are the future, !!!
just need a community and we are away !

my skills and contribution,

i work as a technician in an art gallery at the moment, get two days off a week, so not all that bad for time to help with this.

im am also an art graduate, and was sculptor assistant, so i can do things like welding, and polish stainless steel if needed, designing etc,
plus carpentry/joinery by trade. plus lots of other things/ the list goes on…

ive already made a shredder, and trying to make the extruder… ive got tools for making the machines, and also ive got a wood lathe,
and also potential contacts for stuff like metal supply at a discount,
and i know a reliable lazer cutting service in Lancaster…
and also i know someone who can lathe metal parts super nicely..

in terms of the other idea , of a mobile buss.. its not uncommon,., i used to help my uncle with his (Stock car racing) formal 2.. and i would see the formula 1s would usually convert a Coach from the scrap yard in to a 2 level car transporter + workshop + camper van style living,,, probs a lot of money but it wasn’t like formula 1 you see on tv, so a lot of it was just fancy looking junk..

05/12/2017 at 19:57

I think a mains electric power and/or water hookup would be best and should be available anywhere there are sufficient numbers of people where you would actually want to do this. Most Town centres/shopping precincts etc. build in infrastructure for just this type of thing.

07/12/2017 at 14:48

@andyn @kettlekekkers @tnt1
Right guys, I created this public google document with initial thoughts and there’s a private spreadsheet with more details. Whoever is interested in helping please send me your email on private and i’ll add you


we need more people involved, call to all uk precious plastic fans!!

07/12/2017 at 21:28

a good example of containers being used in uk , also a possible location to setup?


08/12/2017 at 18:45

I’ve thought of a problem let’s see if you guys can help with a solution:
so the idea is for the workshop to be mobile, either on bus or a container, being relocated every month or two. Ideally there should always be travelling with it someone responsible and knowledgeable, but might be hard to find someone willing to commit to travel so much?

Obviously at each place I think we should employ 1, 2 or 3 locals to help with the running of the workshop, bring people from the streets, bring kids from schools, explain how it works etc. So even though they’d be trained ideally you want someone permanently..


08/12/2017 at 20:19

maybe it starts out in a semi-permanent place ,like a dockside harbour/dry mooring… (or would need to acquired land somehow)

then when it gathers more interest and success, more people will be involved, more potential to move or have other setups…

if a council gave us 1000 square feet of land, which isn’t much of an ask TBH,
that would create potential for a starting point…

09/12/2017 at 23:56

You are a model community. I want to do this in California to take down to Mexico & Central America where they have no recycling. But I’m only in the dream stage. Thanks for the inspiration!

11/12/2017 at 17:00

Hi, great idea. Just a few open questions that came up while thinking about the project. (Note: I am not a chemical nor mechanic engineer hence apologies if I’m getting this wrong).

– Types of plastic to recover for this project. Would it matter what is recovered? Are there ‘better types’ to recover and recycle or all are as good or bad.
– In order to make the products would you be able to mix the different types of plastics or you have to separate by type and color (PP, ABS, PS, PE, PC, etc).
– The machines (filament maker, extruder, injection moulding machines, 3d printer) would work with all types of plastic?

11/12/2017 at 17:56

Hey @urbanmining, thanks.

All the plastics collected need to be separated and sorted by type and clean. So maybe offer an incentive if people want to bring their plastics, like if it’s clean and sorted we’ll give you credits or discounts to spend in our store (for the finished recycled products) or you can do it here with us and get educated in the process.

To create new products they also need to be separated, we’d try to work with all the materials but if there’s one plastic that it’s hard to make something with or not recyclable we’ll dispose of it as usual. The machines work with every type except for the 3d printer that I think doesn’t work well with some types, other people will be able to tell, I don’t really know!

We need more people to show interest or at least give their opinion ! Let’s give another shoutout to Precious Plastic fans in the UK!




















11/12/2017 at 17:59

This is an amazing idea would love to help and be involved. I’m a product designer so would be more than happy coming up with products to make (have some in mind already) and more than willing to help in all aspects of the project.


11/12/2017 at 18:33

Hi I’m definitely still interested in helping. I’d happily do sorting. Could probably help with planning and organisation too as I’m a Pa. Also have access to loads of plastic bottles as I work at a University in London. We also do product design degrees that might be interested in a project? Still having a think about possible locations.

11/12/2017 at 21:18

Fabulous and exciting idea and loads of support already offered.
Love the London bus idea but don’t let that scupper plans if just not doable. Though I’m sure there has to be a way.
Location and partnerships is key so perhaps focus on a potential list of who and where i.e. Tate and see what they can offer in terms of funding, staffing and support. George Monbiot may also be interested and able to help? I can’t offer much in the way of practical support but you are welcome to all my ideas and enthusiastic support!
Go for it!

12/12/2017 at 14:43

Personally I’d prefer each area to develop independently that way we can maximise impact in several areas, a mobile unit is too temporary in effect and sustainability. If this process truly works the mobile units have done the introduction and concept development we now need to embed the practice and be a part of a regular day to day habit?

13/12/2017 at 01:55

It’s possible to rent shipping containers and similar self-storage pods for a fairly small monthly and sometimes weekly fee. It might be worth considering running it out of there initially.

Another approach might be to pair up with an established company and very publicly recycle their plastics. LUSH seem clued up on creating a closed loop. If the project is a success they might look to sponsor, or other companies might like to get involved too.

13/12/2017 at 02:17

Hi, like the idea very much. In fact I am actually in the initial stages of putting a bid together to secure a space in East London. I am an architectural designer. Looking to collaborate. Please pm me to discuss.

13/12/2017 at 12:52

thanks @rrrcic but I believe a mobile workshop would be less commitment for a council, they can try it out and then if they think it has value, establish a permanent centre in their cities. Plus a mobile workshop would be able to get to much more people wherever it travels. But if you can build a permanent workshop, have the resources and help from council / organisations, go for it! (I know you’re on it already πŸ™‚ )

Good idea @tims, we need to look into more companies that would like to sponsor
About renting it, I didn’t think it would make sense, but Β£130/month for a 40 ft container, that’s definitely worth considering ! https://www.portablespace.co.uk/product/40ft-x-8ft-shipping-container

At the end of the day I’m preparing a budget with the most-expensive-case-scenario which would be buy the container or double decker, but then if we don’t reach that amount, it might be doable renting the container

interesting, do you mean east london where they have this shipping container city? our business plan will be public so you can get inspiration from it

calling more people πŸ™‚

@rosita @gomako @minnocress @debsta @savetheearth @pixelmama @clare @florapower @ktpepper @daniel22 @gemrockers @nikm @jahska @akalou @westcoastsurf

13/12/2017 at 13:07

Hi I’d love to be involved. I’d love to work on the project as an artist but I’m equally qualified with current Dbs check to run educational workshops with schools.
In fact a schools outreach minibus would be a great idea if you can create a small scale process to fit inside. There should be tonnes of interest in schools about recycling and environmental issues.
Why not go one step further and target the mess makers at all uk festivals!!! You should see the mess left behind after those.
I’m in Nottingham and would be glad to help. Hopefully this is food for thought xx

13/12/2017 at 17:18

You mentioned budget @javierrivera. I’m interested to know how you’re thinking of funding it. I wonder if DEFRA and The Environment Agency might be worth contacting initially to see what plans they have. Michael Gove just announced tackling plastic waste in China using UK foreign aid money, so you may be able to get a research grant, or similar.

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