My name is Navin Tagore-Erwin and I am obsessed with trash. I am working to build four small scale plastic recycling machines to be used across my community. The machines are an open-sourced design by an organization called Precious Plastics that can be made fairly easily with the appropriate resources.
When built, the machines break down plastic of all types, then melt them into custom molds. The molds can be used for anything at all. My plan is to melt them into molds for building materials, so that we can revitalize park benches, build durable planters for community gardens, and eventually pitch the idea to the city to build housing for the homeless.
I plan to build the machines with teams of students from across different campuses on Oahu. I have support from engineers at the UH Manoa campus, metalworker students from Honolulu Community College, and support from all of the campus's student sustainability clubs. We would like to build the machines with help from this grant and our pooled resources in order to eventually recycle all of the plastic from the smaller campuses.
The machines that Precious Plastics designed do not have a large capacity, but they do have a large impact on the perception behind recycling. It's so much easier than we'd like to believe. The problem that we face is scale. Recycling and repurposing is easy, but recycling and repurposing ten of thousands of tons of materials seems impossible.
The idea behind this project is to influence perception, reduce waste, help communities, and show the state and the waste industry that they can do better. If a bunch of young kids can do this with extremely limited resources, then why can't the professionals do more?
Oahu is a small island with a million people. Our landfill will run out space in six years. It's too expensive to recycle our plastic, so we burn it. our beaches our littered. Even our mountains. We need to change. Even if it starts small.
Funded by Oahu, HI (May 2019)