This article is part of Precious Plastic, a One Army project tackling the plastic waste problem. You can learn morehere
Over the past 6 yrs Precious Plastic has become a global movement of thousands of people applying their creative genius to solve the plastic waste problem. Together. As a recycling army. This already feels like a success on its own.
However, if you are a tiny bit like us you want to see the numbers. Juicy data showing the cumulative impact we’re all having working on Precious Plastic. Back in March 2020, we ran our first-ever Precious Plastic Global Impact Survey to gather qualitative and quantitative data from the Precious Plastic community.
We heard from more than 1 000 people worldwide. Workspaces, recyclers, collectors, machine builders and community members. Ok, let’s crack on with some numbers!
Kgs/year of plastic recycled
Let’s start with the most important piece of information. Together, all workspaces surveyed recycled over 540 000 kgs of plastic waste yearly. That amounts to 1 200 kg/year or 100 kg/month for every Precious Plastic workspace. The plastic recycled still seems minimal if compared to traditional recycling infrastructure. However, we see a tipping point approaching as the Precious Plastic Universe is implemented globally with all its new tools and machines.
The average Precious Plastic workspace has a team of 5, of which 1/3 are women. Normally only 1 person is able to work full time and get a salary. Makes us very happy to see lots of women amongst many dusty, nerdy machine guys.
Plus over 50% of the people working on Precious Plastic is under 30 giving us great hope for a generational transformation.
Here is a breakdown of the longevity of Precious Plastic projects around the world:
-6% are more than 5 yrs old
-22% are between 2 and 5 yrs old
-30% are between 1 and 2 yrs old
-42% exists for less than a year
The Precious Plastic adoption curve seems to be growing exponentially year after year with the beginning of 2020 that saw a 73% increase in new Precious Plastic workspace from 2019.
Global annual revenue
Together people and workspaces working on Precious Plastic generated over 2 Million € in yearly revenue (2 025 323 € to be precise). That is 4,500 € a year or 375 € per month for each workspace around the world. Bear in mind that about 1/2 of the Precious Plastic workspace are not-for-profit organizations whose aim isn’t generating revenue.
To start up their recycling businesses Precious Plastic workspaces invested more than 4.95 Million € from private, public or personal investment. That comes down to 11 000€ per workspace.
Of all workspaces around the world, 10% are profitable while 21% are financially sustainable. This happens through direct sales of products, machines and services.
A major criticism we had over the years was that unless there is a financial incentive Precious Plastic won’t work. The survey showed that there are many workspaces that are legit for-profit businesses, making money every month and employing various people. This makes us excited, especially as we are confident that the newly released open source business models will skyrocket those numbers.
Helping each other
While we help thousands of people all around the world creating their businesses from recycling plastic we haven’t yet figured out a model to generate money ourselves. And that’s where Patreon comes in to help pay our core team a minimum salary so we can keep on developing and maintaining Precious Plastic for the world to use. If you happen to be in the position to support our work, here is a link to make sure we can continue to do our work.
The shredder is by far the most widely available machine in the Precious Plastic Universe. Of all workspaces worldwide 79.6% have a shredder, 57.1% have an Injection machine and 50.2% have an Extrusion machine.
PP & HDPE
Polypropylene (PP) and High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) are the most recycled plastics within the Precious Plastic Universe.
Ok, that’s it for now. I hope we’ve satisfied a bit of your data craving. Lots to process.
What do you think? Any numbers catching your interest? What are you most excited about? Any data raising your eyebrows? Let us know in the comment and let’s start the conversation!