Nestled between mountains, Sarajevo is rich in nature. As in many cities around the globe, plastic is a ubiquitous part of consumer life in Sarajevo. Single-use plastic bottles assemble at kiosks, ready for those passing by to conveniently grab a drink in during the heat waves of the summer. Items placed in plastic bags, ready to conveniently transported to their next destination.
In the summer of 2018, Precious Plastic Sarajevo began to materialize. During that summer, a shredder powered by bicycle, a compression machine, and injection machine were created. The materials for the DIY machines were sourced from hardwood stores and scrapyards, as the team worked with a local mechanic to weld and create the machines.
In October 2018, with the support of Crvena Association for Art and Culture, Precious Plastic Sarajevo gave a workshop as part of Prostor Povezivanja (Connectivity Space) at the campus for the University of Sarajevo Faculty of Agriculture and Food Science. The Faculty took on Precious Plastic with a team of six students and faculty. At the beginning of this year, the team began by renovating a space in the Faculty for plastic collection and have garnered enthusiasm from various members in the faculty. In the following months, the machines were experimented with and tweaked. One change included adding a motor to the shredder, in place of the bike. The group has recently received a small grant in order to continue working on and improving their DIY machines.
The group began experimenting with the injection machine and created various items such as bowls, but with the donation of two molds from Saračević d.o.o. the team was able to begin producing cleaner products more efficiently. On one particularly productive day at the workshop, the team produced 22 pots and 42 hexagonal tiles.
Following an Earth Day presentation in April, the team was able to recruit 15 new members with a variety of interests and skills in order to help them expand production and the impact that they are having. The team hopes to increase plastic recycling awareness in the city this year.
Other partners in the city have also begun to look at recycled plastic as a material. At the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, students have been thinking of ways to revitalize a green space using recycled plastic to create spaces of interaction in the park, such as benches or playground equipment.
From the beginning, Precious Plastic Sarajevo has collaborated with New York University Abu Dhabi. Professor Zlatan Filipovic (American University of Sharjah) and Assistant Teacher Denisa Šečerbajtarević (Academy of Fine Arts Sarajevo) attended the WANA conference in December 2018, participating in panels and assisting in workshops. A cube, the product of an experiment, was also featured in the Plastic Fantastic exhibition that opened during the WANA conference. Through the support of Crvena Association for Art and Culture, Precious Plastic Sarajevo has hosted two NYUAD interns. Hamza Haider worked on the project in the summers of 2018 and 2019 and Katharina Klaunig worked on the project in the summer of 2019.
As knowledge sharing partners and collaborators, Precious Plastic Sarajevo and Precious Plastic NYUAD continue to work together.