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PLASTIC GARAGE: Taking the conversation on plastics circularity into the community

The only way forward for our industry is towards a circular economy, in which plastic products are thoughtfully designed, used, and then efficiently reused or recycled before being given another lifetime in new, high-value applications, beginning the cycle all over again. Technical innovations and legislative measures are already driving significant progress, but there’s still a long way to go to complete transformation.



To get there, we need ideas and engagement from as wide a pool of informed stakeholders as possible. Large companies, industry bodies, and international organisations are all undoubtedly crucial to progress, but there’s also a vast reservoir of creativity and potential action in the wider community – if only we can access it.


Taking the plastics circularity conversation local

This is where a new initiative at the GRAND GARAGE in Linz, Austria, comes in. The GRAND GARAGE is a space for innovation: housed inside a former tobacco factory, covering an area of over 3,000 square metres, it contains 90 professional machines and digital technologies covering metal work, electronics, robotics, and 3D printing. And now, its latest addition is the PLASTIC GARAGE — a space for the community to explore plastics recycling.

© GRAND GARAGE

Initiated by the Borealis Social Fund and co-financed with EREMA, the PLASTIC GARAGE was officially opened on 5 October 2022. A two-part inauguration was held, comprising a stakeholder event with 70 invited guests including businesses, industry partners and universities, and a public event, attracting around 130 participants.


A plastics recycling plant in microcosm

The PLASTIC GARAGE hosts a plastics recycling plant in microcosm, giving visitors a real, hands-on experience of a part of the plastics lifecycle not often seen by the public — from end-product back to raw material. Using small plastics recycling machines from plasticpreneur®, including a shredder, an extrusion machine, and injection-moulding technology,​ visitors can experience for themselves the transformative power of plastics recycling technologies.


A space to learn, explore and be inspired

The PLASTIC GARAGE now holds regular workshops teaching attendees how to use the machines, as well as the basic principles of plastics recycling. These workshops are open to interested people of all ages who want to engage creatively with plastics. As well as provoking conversations about recycling, the workshops aim to celebrate the value of plastic as a raw material, and raise awareness of its circular potential. Dedicated events for school groups and universities are also held in the hope of inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.



In this way, the PLASTIC GARAGE is a perfect example of the Everminds™ spirit — unlocking progress though sharing information, encouraging collaboration, and enabling creativity. A bi-monthly Stammtisch, or ‘regular table’ will take the conversation even deeper, encouraging debate, research and experimentation. The next big idea in plastics circularity might not be born in the research lab of a university or a large company — it might come from somewhere like this. With the scale of the challenge we’re facing, all ideas are welcome.

Collaboration

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