Precious Plastics

Everywhere we shop, from street vendors and traditional marketplaces to supermarkets and department stores, it is often than not that we end up with lots of plastic bags that come with our purchase. What happens to those bags right after we throw them away? Given the garbage ‘system’ in common, dense urban areas in Indonesia which is next to non-existing’, these bags would mostly be mixed with all kinds of garbage, which are then separated from the whole dump by scavengers who collect them. The next phase for the bags is to be shredded into small pieces, before being crushed into paste and molded into plastic rods of 3mm diameter, which become the base for producing pellets.

A site that crushes plastic bags into flakes at PT. Ganesha Nusantara Plastik, Bojong Sari, Bandung

The plastic pellets are then processed into bags with inferior quality (compared to the bags that went into the shredding machine at the beginning of the ‘recycling’ process), which doesn’t add to its economic value, nor provide any positive impact to the local community. A design research was conducted at ITB to upgrade the value of the material – by using the processed plastic in its ‘wires’ state – and to provide job opportunities for local people who live around the plastic rods production site. Presented here are a number of products that the research team has come up with.

From plastic trash to industrial material for handycraft product

A variety of products made of recycled plastic rods

Indoor lamps made of recycled plastic rods

The material retains its transparency, which makes it suitable for lighting products

Detailed profiles of the products

Research team: Deny Willy, Muhammad Ihsan, Nuryanto, Krissandi, Beni Chandra, Alfian (Yayasan Apikayu), 2010

One thought on “Precious Plastics

  1. Chris Ritter

    This is extremely interesting and hopeful. I love how you are combining recycling, trash cleanup, and local artisans into a beautiful and useful end product! How big is the facility that does this recycling into the rods? Is the process complicated and expensive? We are looking to do something similar in a project in Peru.


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