Lakes Area Precious Plastics Workshops
Thanks to a Community Changemaker Grant from West Central Initiative, and project partners Pope/Douglas Solid Waste and Springboard for the Arts, a Mix Workspace was established at the Otter Tail County Recycling Center in fall of 2020.
The Lakes Area Mix Workspace includes a shredder, extruder, sheet press, and injection machine. With these machines, you can bring plastic waste to the workspace to create durable and ‘precious’ plastic items!
The Plastic Problem
Plastic pollution is one of our most pressing environmental issues. Eight million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans annually from areas of the world without adequate waste and recycling facilities. It litters our road ditches, floats down our rivers, and is present in almost all bodies of water, and now is even found in bottled water and rain. Plastic is extremely malleable, endlessly useful, and very very durable. BUT – the very properties that make it useful make it a problem. Plastic just doesn’t go away. While some plastics seem to ‘break down’ they are really breaking into smaller pieces, but that makes them an even bigger problem as smaller pieces are eaten by wildlife who can’t distinguish it from food.
How much plastic gets recycled?
Less than 10% of total plastic waste is recycled, with the vast majority piling up in landfills or scattered around our landscape and oceans. In the United States perhaps as much as 50% of recyclable plastics get recycled, but much more plastic is not recyclable due to the availability of recycling programs, or the type of plastic used, or products with mixed types of plastics.
Plastics are durable, versatile materials that last hundreds of years. Instead of seeing plastics as disposable and worthless, let’s start seeing them as valuable and precious!
Lakes Area Mix Workspace
Thanks to a Community Changemaker Grant from West Central Initiative, and project partners Pope/Douglas Solid Waste and Springboard for the Arts, a Mix Workspace was established at the Otter Tail County Recycling Center in fall of 2020. The Lakes Area Mix Workspace includes a shredder, extruder, sheet press, and injection machine. With these machines, you can bring plastic waste to the workspace to create durable and ‘precious’ plastic items!
The shredder is always the first machine to use when recycling plastic. It shreds plastic that can then be used in any of the other machines.
The sheet press is used to create sheets of plastic that can be used in the same ways that can be used as a material for furniture or other projects.
The extruder can be used with a mold to make beams for building, or without a mold to make a plastic filament.
The injection machine injects melted plastic into molds. We have molds for making a plastic alphabet, carabiners, and rounded bricks.
With this workshop, we hope to inspire the community to value plastic by demonstrating that it is precious! Bring your cracked plastic flower pots, empty shampoo bottles, cracked storage totes or other clean, used plastic, shred them up, and create something new!
Everyone is welcome to use the machines – whether you are an artist, a maker, a teacher, or a curious community member, you can schedule a demo of the workspace or set up a time to get trained into the space! Recycling can mean more than putting your plastic in the bin, YOU can create new things from your used plastic.
Upcoming Public Events and Scheduling Your Groups Event
Mix Workspace Training: Before jumping into the workspace, everyone is required to complete a training session to learn how to use the space safely. Check out the reservation slots here to schedule a time.
Want to come check it out with a group? Contact the Otter Tail County Public Information & Education Officer to schedule a demo or training.
What is Precious Plastic?
Precious Plastic is an open source global community of innovators who enable others to participate in local grassroots recycling by transforming ordinary plastic items into useful products, or even art. Hundreds of communities all over the world have a Precious Plastic workshop where they collect plastic, shred plastic and create products from recycled plastic. The online Precious Plastic website and community is a robust repository of information, tutorials, videos and more to help you make plastic into new things with lasting value.