Precious plastic machines made in the Panamanian style

Designed and developped in Fablab Ecostudio

Energy & environment Recycling & upcycling

The project stands for the construction of 4 machines (grinder, oven, compressor, extruder) to transform plastic waste in products. Based on the project « Precious plastic », Matthew adapted the machines fabrication process to local resources and needs. His objective was to address the recycled material storage issue of Panama while converting collection center in fabrication center.

Technologies used

Traditional tools Metal working tools Recycling Electronics CNC milling

What’s the project story?

One year after the opening of Ecostudio in the campus « City of Knowledge », the director of ONG FAS (Fundación de Acción Social) shared with me the difficulties faced by the collection center of the place. This center raised awareness about recycling in the campus and it offers local people to store and reuse their plastic. It main challenge is the lack of regional network to collect and use the recycled materials. To pay the space and the 6 employees they used to sell the recycled plastic to China but since one year, Chinese companies stoped buying it to use their local recycle waste. As a consequence, they came out of space to store all the bags of recycled plastic and they had to find a way to make money. I discovered the project « Precious plastic » in the web 2 years ago. I was convinced that this solution, by transforming the plastic and making products with it, could liberate some space while creating a new business for them. First, I looked for buying the machines abroad but it was too much expensive. Because they believed in our idea, Marisol Landau and her NGO FAS (Fundación de Acción Social) gave me 300$ by to make a prototype. Then we applied to the Ford contest « Donativos Ambientales » which supports local project with positive impact on environment and we won a 7500$ grant. It covers the machines construction and the people training to use it. We expect to finish the entire project at the end of the year 2018.

How the workshop was useful ?

Ecostudio was a catalyzer to gather people with a problem, a solution, money, competencies, to make this project come true. The GNO status of the makerspace also helped us to applied and won the grant to fulfill it. Thanks to the experts and machines of Ecostudio, we did the prototype and we had the proof that we can make it by our own cheaper than expected and with the resources available.

What’s the project’s greatest success so far?

When I saw the video 3 years ago, the makerspace didn’t exist yet. At this time, I couldn’t imagine that I will succeed to make it, in the fablab I created, and to generate a social and environment impact.

What’s your greatest failure(s)& lesson(s) so far?

We made a first version different from the one of Precious Plastic with the resources available in the lab. It was a success for the aluminum but not for plastic, which is the main source of waste here. So we had to iterate to find a way to build it cheaper with the local means. We can rely on the Precious plastic open source to find recent updates that helped us in our investigations but their building process required to buy pieces from Europe which are expensive for us in Central and Latina America.

What’s your vision for the project & next steps?

Other collection centers asked us to build similar machines and to train them to use it. Next step is to test the first machines in the City of Knowledge. Based on our experience, we will deploy the solution to other collection centers and collect data about the frequency, type and amount of recycled plastic. It will make it easier for the company interested to buy plastic and to find the provider that fit their needs. Moreover, we can guide the centers to earn money by designing and making recycled plastic products.

How can anyone interested can contribute to the project?

We are looking for partners to help us provide with pieces required by Precious Plastic or for makers who want to help us develop such machine with the local resources.

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