Upcycling Design and Art installations from recycled plastic
It was creativity - not circularity - that initially got the boys of GAAU1UP to work with plastic. It was 2016 and the young designers were looking for a cool, new material not used by many. They bought a shredder and started experimenting with melting used plastics and turning them into something new. In those days recycling and the separate collection of waste was non-familiar in Hong Kong. Every Saturday the team sat in a local recycling station to collect plastic, slowly figuring out which types are best to use.
Precious Plastic is an open-source, worldwide network sharing knowledge on machines, products, and tools to recycle plastic. It was there the GAAU1UP team sourced the plastic shredder developed by Dutchman Dave Hekken, who spent years experimenting with different types of plastic, temperatures and melting techniques. Through this community, the process continues to become more streamlined and efficient, and it is in that collaborative spirit the passionate GAAU1UP team is happy to share their knowledge with newcomers on the plastic recycling journey and in workshops with schools and businesses.
Along the way, GAAU1UP built a portfolio of art installations, incredibly cool chairs, tabletops and all kinds of fun gadgets. The best thing is that these designs at the end of their life cycle can be fully recycled into something new. These days the team gets a steady supply from a few recyclers, like a local optician who collects used contact lens boxes, straws and other packaging from retail shops, sorted plastic from Green@Community, and - thanks to the ending of the pandemic- huge piles of surplus masks from a local NGO. The ambition level for the passionate GAAU1UP is to produce a line of products to create a solid financial base for the design studio. * GAAU1 is Cantonese for plastic - plastic UPcycled. GAAU1UP is also slang for ‘bullshit’ in Cantonese.