The end of this year’s SXSW festival brought important opportunities for Precious Plastic Texas, the UT chapter of a global organization focused on eliminating and recycling plastic waste.
During this year’s SXSW, Precious Plastic Texas presented their shredder machine, which was used to shred plastic collected from Waller Creek. Once shredded, the plastic was put into a silk screen-printing press and turned into patches that could be sewn onto audience members’ clothing.
With the help from New Dutch Wave, a company from the Netherlands dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs to an international audience, Pravar Kapoor, a co-founder of Precious Plastic Texas said the organization was able to bring the shredder machine to a new audience at SXSW.
”We were already in the process of building the shredder when we got a call from New Dutch Wave,” Kapoor said. “Things rapidly picked up, and bringing the project to SXSW was incredible because it instantly brought us to the big leagues.”
Electrical engineering senior Haven Trahan is the lead engineer for Precious Plastic Texas and worked on getting the shredder machine working properly in time for SXSW. Trahan said this opportunity meant people can start “taking (Precious Plastic Texas) seriously.”
“It was a way of getting our name out there,” Trahan said. “The goal of this was so we can start moving beyond just working on campus at UT and make it a fixture within the community.”
Precious Plastic is a global organization that started in the Netherlands. The UT chapter was founded last fall by marketing senior Tristine Lam and chemical engineering senior Kapoor.
“After I interned in Thailand, I was appalled by how much plastic waste was being produced, and that’s when I founded Precious Plastic,” Lam said. “I was really inspired by this project, and my friend and I asked ourselves, ‘Why is this not a project here in Austin since it is a self-proclaimed green city?’”
Each chapter can create their own shredder machine to eliminate plastic waste because the designs are showcased on the official Precious Plastic website, Lam said.
“The idea is that these machines can be made anywhere as long as you have access to a metal shop,” Lam said. “Right now, over 170,000 people in over a 100 different countries are working on projects like these, and this gives you a glimpse of how big and important this project is.”