Precious Plastics Workspace & Marketplace: NEW Class for 23-24 School Year

April 24, 2023, by Sandii Buckman

An image of a bright, blue sky with clouds. The center focus of the image is the side of the Inspire main office building on campus, that is home to one of our most beloved murals, designed and painted by Inspire students themselves. The mural depicts a Zelda like scene, with INSPIRE in the center. 🌎 At Inspire, EVERY DAY is Earth Day! 🌍

Since its conception in 2018, our Environmental Club’s Precious Plastic Workspace & Marketplace has been a labor of love for community members, alumni, and our Inspire students. For those that don’t know, under the leadership of Science Teacher Extraordinaire, Justin Peek, Inspire’s Environmental Club has been using machines obtained from The Precious Plastics project, a Netherlands-based open hardware recycling initiative, to run their own Precious Plastics Project on campus. These machines include a plastic shredder and an injector, which melts shredded plastic and injects it into molds, forming various useful objects like combs and carabiners, to name a few.

But they’ve always needed a space to call their own in order to truly flourish. Thanks to a generous donation from the Foor Foundation, they were finally able to purchase a facility to help in the expansion of their mission!

🤩EXCITING NEWS! Next year, 10th-12th grade students will have an opportunity to take a Precious Plastics class – STEM Practicum. Below is just a taste of what the course has to offer:


We want to safely and productively upcycle nearly 100% of the plastic waste disposed of on our campus.


  • Workshop Safety: Students will be required to learn and practice workshop safety, including emergency procedures.
  • Machine Operation Training: Students will be required to learn how to use five different plastic molding machines.
  • Machine Maintenance: Students will be required to carry out routine machine maintenance. Machine maintenance can include regularly scheduled service, routine checks, and both scheduled and emergency repairs.
  • Plastic Collection, Sorting and Storing: Students will need to regularly collect and empty plastic waste into our sorting bins collection area. Labeled plastic will need to be weighed and logged (and sometimes cleaned) before it is shredded and stored.
  • Workshop Maintenance: The workshop will need to be cleaned regularly removing harmful plastic particles from work workspaces.


All upcycled plastic products will be managed, displayed and sold through our Marketplace. Students and our community can make purchases from the marketplace with cash and with plastic credits. All students and community members can earn plastic credits by various means including (but not limited to): donating clean plastic waste, volunteering with plastic waste processing, community service hours, and bike-riding miles.


  • Plastic Molding: Production of our marketplace goods requires warming up machines, cooling molds, post-injection processing (sanding, finishing). Finished products must be inventoried, priced and displayed. Students must be taught inventory management and data collection procedures.
  • Retailing: Our plastic products will be sold through our marketplace during operating hours requiring student volunteers. Website sales will need to be managed by student volunteers as well.
  • Merchandising: We hope to sell our products through various Chico vendors including but not limited to: Made in Chico and Woodzees.


The workspace/marketplace will be a model for other schools that want to establish their own Precious Plastics program. Our Precious Plastics Upcycling Workspace and Marketplace (PPUWM) will also serve as a teaching tool for students young and old (and the general public) to tour and participate in plastic upcycling.


  • Hands-on-Learning Lab: Precious Plastics hopes to be an educational tool, by offering hands-on-learning experiences to students from neighboring K-12 schools.
  • Collaboration: Precious Plastics hopes to connect and collaborate with Chico High School students with the intention of establishing their own precious plastics workspaces.
  • Marketing: As an effective marketing tool, Precious Plastics will regularly attend community events.

Interdisciplinary Learning

The workspace/marketplace will be a tool for cross-curricular collaborations between science/engineering and math and the social sciences yielding fantastic opportunities for interdisciplinary learning.


  • Collaboration: Cross-curricular collaborations with other teachers will require time for planning, executing and evaluating. Examples of cross-curricular opportunities broadly include economics – budgeting/marketing/accounting/business management; chemistry/biology – microplastics and climate change; health – indoor air pollution and cancer; performing arts – building blocks for modular sets**; engineering/electronics/STEM capstone – redesigning & building more efficient and effective machines.

Engineering Workspace/Vocational Education

Precious Plastics offers a path that imparts the skills and knowledge needed to work in a given occupation (i.e. welding).


  • Vocational Education: One exciting goal is to offer lessons on basic welding techniques so students can build/assemble their own machines that can be sold/donated to our community.
  • 3DModeling: With simple and free 3D-modeling software, students can design their own injection molds that can be machined on Chico High Schools Campus and later used to produce their own precious plastic products.

Interested in a school that takes the future of our youth and planet to heart? We’d love to have you join us for the 23-24 school year! Help us save the planet — one student, one recycled piece of plastic, at a time 💚 Enroll today by clicking HERE.

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