Kunststofferei is an open collective working on practical solutions to divert plastic from nature, incinerators and landfills by closing the plastic recycling loop locally.
As part of the Precious Plastic Universe, we want to rethink our single-use mentality and aim to create long-lasting, useful and recyclable products from locally sourced plastic waste. We hope that together we can foster a more sustainable use of plastics in our society and implement the principles of a true circular economy – value creation instead of wastefulness – on a regional scale.
Precious Plastic Universe
The team bought a second-hand industrial shredder and named it Töge. We also repaired an old lab-oven we scavenged from skips which will hopefully become our compression molding machine. Oh yeah, and our super talented member Peter came up with an arbour press design and realized it using mostly used parts - we’ll try that for cold pressing sheets in the upcoming weeks.
We found a home at Trash Galore who generously offered us a physical space with two workshop rooms which can host our machines and plastic.
Phil got good news. His project “Make Plastic recycling local and create art at the same time” was awarded 5000 EUR through the Ideenwettbewerb Sächsische Mitmach-fonds. This money allowed us to get going, purchase the first machines and part and personal safety equipment. How exciting!
Shortly after, a team of scientists, climate activists, product designers and craftspersons gathered and started the discussion on how to turn the ideas into actions and promptly founded the Kunststofferei. Here we are!
Susan ten Hoeve, born in the Netherlands, did her Bachelor in Industrial Product Design & Engineering. During her study she lived a while in The Gambia where she taught locals how to make new products out of Plastic waste. After her study she worked for a company where she mostly created things out of… plastic. It bothered her a lot and she spoke to the owners. After that every employee had an hour per week to work voluntarily on a sustainable project. But restless as she is, she couldn’t stay there longer than 3 years. So she decided to sell all her belongings and travel the world. After a year she ended up in Leipzig, where one of her dreams came true, starting a Precious Plastics workshop and finally making sustainable products. When she’s not in the workspace, you can find her in one of the many Lost Places in Leipzig.
Phil Ruthig is a relative newcomer to the plastic recycling scene. He studied Neuroscience and is busy with his PhD at Uni Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. In summer 2020, his focus expanded to plastic recycling after he won funding for sustainable engagement (Mitmachfonds Sachsen, Kategorie ReWIR). After a short and very fruitful networking session with the local scene, he co-founded the Kunststofferei in June 2020. When he is not busy with recycling plastic or wondering how brains work, you’ll most likely find him climbing some boulder or surfing across stormy waters with his kite.
Jonas Schattling is a jack of all trades. He found the Precious Plastic movement rather accidentally online but got hooked straight away. After meeting with some more interested locals, he became one of the founding members of Kunststofferei.
During the day, Jan Knappe is an Environmental Scientist working at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and interested in everything related to blue-green technologies and sustainable water and wastewater management. He spends most of his days either at one of the test sites or tucked behind his computer in the office crunching numbers. At night (if he is not out dumpster diving), Jan is haunted by nightmares about all the single-use plastic that ends up in our environment. We still cannot account for about two thirds of all the plastic ever produced. To finally be able to sleep in peace again one day, he joined the Precious Plastic team, first in Dublin where he lived until summer 2020, and now at Kunststofferei here in Leipzig. You can find Jan on Twitter or check out his personal blog.
Iris Pop was born and raised in Transylvania, Romania, where she did her Bachelor’s studies in Communication and Public Relations. She always felt the urge to go out to discover more, so there she went: she lived a summer in the USA, did her Master’s studies in France and finally settled down in Germany. In her perfect world, there are no borders that need to be passed, no plastic bags in the ocean and no food over-production. A sustainable lifestyle and a conscious consumption were always big on her list, however it was only during an eye-opening trip from Europe to New Zealand that she saw the disturbing results of reckless consumerism and plastic pollution. She then got involved in awareness-creating activities and intensively dealt with sustainability-related topics, such as zero-waste, food-waste and recycling - and that’s how she got to be part of the Kunststofferei team.
Cristina Garrido comes from the Canary Islands in Spain so her love and respect for nature are in her from birth. Recently arrived to Leipzig from Dublin but had heard about Kunststofferei before moving so she was signed into the group way before she had registered as a Leipziger. Started her zero waste journey a few years ago in Dublin switching to reusable options and unpacked grocery stores and second hand clothes shops. All the furniture in her Leipzig apartment was either brought from Dublin or bought second hand. Collaborated on a green campaign at Facebook HQs in Dublin to give reusable water bottles to all employees and created a collection point for crisp packets to send them to Terracycle. Still so much to learn but she is committed to make the effort and learn about daily changes and decisions that will make a difference to both her life and the planet!
Christian Berens works in the fields of artistic design research, using practices of exploratory city exploration, naive buildings and sampled action research, on participation, meeting and exchange formats. He is currently interested in construction sites as heterotopias of transition and change. His interest in urban mining, citizen science and local sustainable production led him to Kunststofferei. His dream goal would be to build a children’s science fiction institute for the practical exploration of future habitats. He sees plastic-recycling as part of this project. Find out more about Christian and his work on his personal website.
Célia Somlai is originally from Hungary and has recently moved from Dublin where she was one of the co-founders of Precious Plastic Dublin. She is amazed by the Precious Plastic Universe, especially its community aspect. She has been intensively involved with the Zero Waste movement for the last couple of years and is now coordinating the Zero Waste Living in Leipzig community group. In the rare occasion that she actually does create some plastic waste, she would prefer to upcycle it herself locally than shipping it off into the unknown. You can follow her Zero Waste Adventures on her Instagram.