Precious Plastics club to reduce waste, create new life for plastic

Connor Newsum, Staff Writer

A quiet science lab tucked away within the halls of the Earth and Biological Sciences Building last Thursday saw the convergence of a club committed to helping the environment by reducing plastic waste.

Jesse Casey, president of the newly minted City College Precious Plastics Club quietly greeted members and quickly dived into the logistics of the big ideas that the club is working on.

“We’re always looking for people who are excited about recycling plastic,” Casey said. 

Precious Plastics is a global environmental project that is focused on sustainability through direct recycling. Founded in 2012 by Dutch industrial designer Dave Hakkens, the organization is centered around community, and clubs all around the world can connect on its website to share innovations and new ideas.

The aim of the club is to recycle single-use plastics into useful products to be resold, both locally and online. Its vision is to work together with City College to create drop-off locations around campus for students and faculty to donate plastic items to the club that they would normally throw in the trash. 

Additionally, the club plans to participate in routine beach cleanups to collect plastics. 

“It’s frustrating to see politicians and people from older generations do nothing to fix our environmental issues. This is a way for our generation to help out,” said Jimmy Zhan, a member of the club. “It’s a great club because it requires some knowledge of engineering, entrepreneurship, marketing, recycling and environmental awareness.”

All plastics collected go through a four-stage process that includes cleaning, shredding, extrusion and molding before they have a finished product. The lynchpin of the operation is a large plastic shredder that the club hopes to have purchased and assembled within the month. The club must also purchase the equipment to wash, melt and mold the plastics into new products. 

“By April 22 we plan to have all the machines and be producing,” Casey said. 

Precious Plastics focuses on a wide range of plastics, from everyday items like water bottles and disposable coffee cups to motor oil containers and tupperware.

The end goal is to mold the refurbished plastic into products like carabiners, cups, bowls, and even chairs and benches.

The Precious Plastics website even sells products made from recycled plastic such as 3D-printed surfboards and skateboards.

Casey is currently working on applications to receive funding from City College’s Sustainability Committee and the Associated Student Government. He hopes to net around $8,500 in funding from the school for purchase of the machines and to fund the club’s operations.

The Precious Plastics Club meets at 3:55pm on Thursdays in the Earth and Biological Sciences Building Room 115.