17 Jun Tackling Plastic Waste and Unemployment – An Interview with Plasticpreneur
Ennovent has recently partnered with Plasticpreneur, an Austrian business that develops and provides affordable, small-scale plastic recycling solutions and combines them with social entrepreneurship skills. With its mobile CE-certified machines, Plasticpreneur enables grassroots access to turn plastic waste into new opportunities to create innovative recycled products and set up new, income-generating projects and social businesses worldwide. Through its work, Plasticpreneur aims to empower communities and foster a rapid transition towards a circular economy.
With the dual aim of tackling plastic pollution and unemployment, Plasticpreneur produces a series of innovative machines, including extruders, granulators, and injection machines, that support plastic recycling until the point of making an end product. The machines can be set up and operated without extensive training and expanded infrastructure. “The machines are plug-and-play. They can be delivered in a DHL box pre-assembled to your doorstep, so you can hit the ground running”, says Sören Lex, co-founder at Plasticpreneur.
While the machines are the central point around which Plasticpreneur’s operations revolve, they also support organisations via the Plasticpreneur HUB, offering operational and business support. “Our HUB mainly has three pillars – the first one is the Innovation Lab, where we help organisations in identifying and developing innovative products and business models. The second one is the Recycling Factory, where we support starting a business from plastic waste. The third pillar is the Awareness Centre, where we try to develop a sustainable mindset through awareness generation”, explains Sören.
So far, Plasticpreneur’s machines are operating in 55 countries across six continents. While the injection machine can process 1 kg of plastic per hour, the extruder can process 10-15 kg of plastic every hour. Plasticpreneur can help design and 3D print the moulds to create new products, or the moulds could be locally sourced.
A recent example from Uganda has an organisation producing face shields during the COVID-19 pandemic using these machines. 20,000 face shields have been produced in Uganda alone, and several machines across ten countries have produced around 100,000 face shields. Sören explains the math behind these machines – “With just € 5000, you can get an injection machine and manual granulator with which you can start producing objects. On an industrial scale, something similar would cost tens of thousands of Euros. An average waste aggregator in a country like India can benefit more by producing products from just a few tens of kilograms of plastic waste in place of selling 1 ton of plastic waste as raw material”, he says.
In a project in Nigeria, the organisation could recover the cost of the machines within two months. “This kind of impact is possible when you can identify products that the market needs and that have a high margin. That is where the solutions of the Innovation Lab are important”, adds Sören.
He also mentions that some organisations could test out different products using these small machines before setting up serial production at a larger scale.
Ennovent has partnered with Plasticpreneur to help bring its solutions to India, Nepal and Fiji. This partnership is part of a longer-term vision shared by the partners to operationalise a local business for Plasticpreneur in Asia. We will work with partners to help them build businesses around plastic recycling by bringing our startup expertise, global network and other key resources to the table. The partners are actively looking for organisations interested in the technology that wish to set up pilot projects that can benefit low-income communities. “We have a flexible model, and our current clients include small enterprises, non-profit organisations, museums and universities. We understand that the solution lies not just in the machines but also in how to embed them correctly. Therefore, we customise our solutions depending on the needs of the client or partner”, says Sören.
If you or your organisation is interested in partnering with Ennovent and Plasticpreneur in India, Nepal, or Fiji, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.