Solar-powered recycling machine ‘Trashspresso’ turns plastic waste into construction materials

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

Taiwanese company Miniwiz has designed a solar-powered recycling machine to turn plastic waste into construction tiles.  

According to the company, the recycling process was designed to be efficient by using artificial intelligence and robotics, taking only three minutes to complete a cycle.

The recycling machine’s compact size makes it convenient for local communities to install in their area. Despite being about the size of a standard refrigerator, two mobile units can recycle up to half a tonne of plastic waste per day – the same working capacity as industrial plants.

“Trashpresso overcomes the barriers of distance and energy, demonstrating that recycling can be done anywhere and making upcycling scalable,” said Jarvis Liu, co-founder, Trashspresso.

“It leapfrogs existing technology and empowers the circular economy by decentralising plastic waste management.”

The recycling process begins using a smart camera with artificial intelligence that helps users sort their plastic waste into different categories from colours to types (polypropylene to polyethylene terephthalate). 

Solar-powered recycling machine "Trashspresso" turns plastic waste into construction materials
Source: Dezeen

After sorting, the segregated plastic is then shredded into flakes, washed, dried, and melted in a mould before a robotic arm transfers the mould into a heat press machine. The plastic can then be shaped into different building materials such as tiles or small accessories. 

In order to minimise the machine’s environmental footprint and gas emissions, the assorted plastics are only heated up to their exact softening temperature, and any volatile organic compounds (VOC) are filtered to prevent going into the atmosphere. Furthermore, the water used to clean the plastic is purified and circulated back into the process rather than thrown away. 

“Trashpresso minimises the air and water footprint to almost zero with just seven kilowatt-hours of power consumption,” said Liu. “Not only does it convert waste on the spot, but it also serves as an educational tool in communities, inspiring consumers to bring in their plastic waste to produce unique durable product to take home.”

The machine has been shipped to Tibet to help build a school from local waste. It was also integrated into a pop-up store in Sardinia where customers can pay using plastic waste instead of cash.

Trashspresso won this year’s World Design Impact Prize, recognising industrial design projects with positive social, cultural, and environmental impact. Thanks to Dezeen for the lead!

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.

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