October 8, 2020

When it comes to sustainability policy, Utrecht University (UU) and Hogeschool Utrecht (HU) have set concrete goals, including the aim to be zero waste by 2030. This is an ambitious target that will require a huge shift in behaviour from both institutions, including the 64000+ students and 10000+ employees that are tied to them.

With this target in mind, Hogeschool Utrecht and the Green Office of Utrecht University have put their minds together to create a project that works to meet these ambitions. Enter: Precious Plastic.

The Extruder Pro: the machine that will be built by Hogeschool Utrecht students

What is precious plastic?

Precious Plastic is an open-source project started by Dutch entrepreneur Dave Hakkens, which aims to trigger the behaviour shift that we want, by creating valuable products from resources that we would normally have considered as waste.

We are starting our own Precious Plastic project within our community using the same methodology. First, we plan to improve collection of plastic by working together with study associations, analyse the local plastic bonus streams (waste streams that are not being recycled yet), and addressing the lack of collection bins in some parts of Utrecht Science Park.

The kind of shreded plastic that we will be working with

Next, thanks to a machine that will be built by an interdisciplinary group of Hogeschool Utrecht students, we will upcycle this plastic to make products. These students are currently conducting research with interested stakeholders like the universities’ webshops and study associations, to determine what kinds of products we should make. This will probably include some beautiful plant pots.

What are the project’s goals?

By offering recycled products we want to encourage UU & HU employees and students to look at their own plastic use and see opportunity instead of waste. We also aim to create a local & circular production chain for upcycling plastic, while challenging our education & research to tackle a local sustainability challenge. If this project can be upscaled, it could prove to be an interesting Living Lab for Utrecht University.

What’s next, and how can you stay updated?

Make sure you keep an eye on our social media for updates on our progress, watch out for our blog and sign up to our newsletter to stay updated on this project.

We expect to start shredding plastic and producing products in early 2021. Study associations or committees who will shred their own collected plastic will be incentivized with huge discounts on the resulting products.

This project is partially being implemented by the Green Office of Utrecht University. The Green Office is where fresh hearts and minds come together to support Utrecht University's sustainable development.

Source: Universiteit Utrecht