Matt and Sean talk about interesting ways to deal with our plastic problem, as well as Matt’s interview with Polyfloss.
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I’m a writer. I write some stuff for kids. I write some sci-fi, and Matt is of course, the guru Behind Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at tech and its impact on our lives. Matt, how are you doing? I’m doing well. How about yourself? I’m doing okay. Today we’re gonna be talking about Matt’s most recent episode, which is an interview.
Before we get into today’s discussion, wanted to share some comments like this one from episode 1 54 from Matron who wrote, I think most people don’t know the way passive houses work and are not presented with the option. I live in the Dominican Republic and here we are in Perma Summer, and my next house is already being planned to be optimized for at least 15 kilowatts of solar panels, solar water heater, and also being at least able to stay cool during the summertime.
Yet it takes a bit more money and planning, but one thing you can count on is that energy is never getting cheaper, so you better be self-sufficient and take that economic burden out of the equation. Macin, it’s good advice. Thank you for sharing this. . Yep. I agree. It’s, it’s a little more upfront cost, but, uh, energy efficiency is important.
There’s also this from then till who wrote in response to our discussion about Matt’s new home that he’s building. Boy, the number of people who were upset, you don’t have a basement. I know , which drew this response from matron. It was a legit question. I thought of it, but didn’t write it down. It’s a great extra room without adding height.
So yes, yes. I get, I’m endlessly amused by the number of people that are like, how can you not get a basement? It’s like money . It’s like there’s an obvious answer to that. Not only money, but in your, in our discussion, you’ve also talked about need and Yeah. You decided you do not need a basement because ultimately, and.
Uh, Matt and I know this as a pain point all too well, we spent a good portion of last year having to repeatedly go back and visit our parents in Rochester, mainly to help them get rid of stuff so that they could move in their basement. Yeah. And their basement in a 2,400 square foot house was wall to wall old stuff, and it was a remarkable amount of, That was not being used.
And when I think of a basement, that’s what I think of. I think of it as the place that you just, I don’t know what to do with this right now, so I’ll put it down here. and Yep. Obviously a finished basement where it is used, it is utilized as a living room, like in my home or as a bedroom or you know, some kind of of useful space is a very different case.
But as Matt described, his design, he was trying to avoid stairs. So why put a room in that would have to require stairs unless you’d go the full route. Did you ever consider an. Well, some people actually made the comment of that, of like, it’s a great place that you could renovate it, make it a finished basement later when you need the extra space.
And my, I was like, that makes sense. Like if you’re a, let’s say a newlywed couple and you don’t have a family yet and you’re about to grow a family, and you could have two kids, three kids, at some point you’re gonna want the extra room. basement makes perfect sense. I’m 50, I have no kids. I’m not gonna be expanding into space.
The space that we’re building is what we need. So it’s like I had no need for a basement. Mm-hmm. . So it, it’s all down to like what you need and what you’re planning for, for your life. I’m building my retirement home, essentially, so it’s a, a basement made no sense now for the heart of this episode, which is going to be basically the long form discussion between Matt and a bunch of people who’ve come up with an interesting solution to excess plastic in our lives.
for today’s discussion. We’re talking about how we’re dealing with, or in most cases, not dealing with plastic. And Matt had a chance to talk to a startup with an innovative approach at reusing plastic to make new materials like installation cheaply and effectively. Before we get to that interview though, this is something Matt’s covered a lot on his YouTube channel.
He has videos on how fungus and algae can be used as a plastic replacement. How there are techniques that can fully break down plastics and the truth about plastic recycling, which is not as happy as we would like it to be. No. Just looking at the comments from those videos, it’s clear that a lot of you are passionate about the topic, such as this comment from Joseph Maik who wrote us reusable bags.
When you go to the shop is my. Do not take plastic bags where you do not need it. For example, at bakeries for fruit, et cetera, reuse plastic where possible, and it is Joss Remarkable. New York City last year transitioned into a no plastic bag city, and it included a transition away from styrofoam as well.
At the same time to hear people talk about it before the transition took place, you would think that we were all being. on Tuesday, rabid wolves are gonna be released into the streets. ? Yes, and good luck surviving this horrendous apocalypse that the city government is putting upon us. After the transition.
The most notable and easily identifiable change was that the amount of litter on the streets. Shran simply because the number of plastic bags blowing down the streets was less. We would have literally, if you walked around New York City in a neighborhood that had trees, it was a regular site that the trees would have bags caught in them, and the transition away from that instantaneously styrofoam and plastic.
Being taken away. And what do you do for takeout food? Well now you need to use something else. And they’ve moved to various forms of cardboard, recycled paper containers, and sometimes aluminum. You have to pick your poison basically. And the city said, styrofoam cannot be that poison. There’s nothing we can do with this.
Yeah. And as far as plastic bags, the change included shops have to give you the option of either a paper bag that you pay for because they’re trying to limit the use of paper or a reusable bag that they can sell you. And in the first few weeks, I like most people in New York, ended up accidentally having to buy so many reusable bags that I now have a, a repository of about 40 reusable bags,
I will never have to buy another reusable bag. And the thing about these reusable bags is they do wear out, they do get dirty and they can be washed in some cases, but washing tends to like make them start to fray and they get a little natty looking. And then you just dispose of it. You can recycle it with fabric.
So places that will collect clothing to be recycled into new textiles is a great way to get rid of those bags. But after a few times of going to the store and saying, oh, darn it, I forgot my rec, my reusable bag again, and having to buy another one. You start to get the habit of not forgetting to take it with you.
Yep. Pretty soon you’re fine. And so, yes, Joss up. You’re right. The simplicity of taking a bag with you is a boon to the environment around you. So I encourage that. Same thing with me. I have way too many of those. There’s also this comment from . Yeah. There was this comment from Mark Smith who wrote, most plastics could be ground up and mixed with road tar to build highways along with old tires.
some of this would just be filler, so it would take less oil to make the tar, the mixed ground up goods could be mixed with tar for roofing, which could, which would not see where like the tar on the highways and there could be other uses for ground up plastic and tires as a person, if you person just thinks about it for a while.
Yep. There’s, there, that’s part of the company that we’re talking to today is they’re, they’re basically taking ground up plastics and then reusing it in a new material for something brand new. It’s, it’s one. Well, duh. Face palm like. Gotta be good ways that we can recycle effectively, and that’s a good use case.
There’s also this idea around how seaweed could be the future of plastic. The comment from no more, I don’t think we’re going to see one solution to fix our plastic problem. I hope we don’t. Having only one solution would be a poor decision. Diversifying the solutions is key to enabling the massive scale we need and also to ensure that a problem with a specific solution doesn’t cripple production.
And this is, yep. A good reminder of of don’t cut off your nose despite your face. Exactly. Yeah. I’m a big believer of that. Not cutting off your notion. Yes, . Thanks for joining me on that . It’s, it’s a, it’s a tough political platform to sell, but I’m out there spreading the news, spreading the word. Please people stop cutting off your noses.
oh, I get into office one way or another. And now let’s get into Matt’s interview with a company Poly Floss and what they’re doing to address the plastic problem and help people in need at the same time. So today I’m being joined by the co-founders of Poly Floss, which is a really unique company that’s taking an interesting stance on how to deal with plastic waste and put it to use in new and interesting ways.
So I thought we could kind of kick things off, kind of going around the room and kind of introducing yourselves and who you are and what your role in Poly Floss is. We could start with, let’s start with Kristoff. Hi, um, my name is Christoph Mak. Um, I’m a product designer and engineer, and at, um, technical, responsible for the technical sides of things at poly floss.
Okay, Audrey. Hi, I’m Audrey. I’m one also of the original co-founder of the Poly First Factory, and I’m a project manager and operation manager in the
company. How about you, Amil? Um, so my name is Amil De I’m, um, engineer, um, PhD, um, in, in engineering and design. And I’m, uh, of course one of the co-founder of the Polyflow.
And, um, I’m currently the ceo, I guess. Um, I handle all the, uh, yeah, finances, strategy, um, hiring processes and everything. Right.
So to kind of kick things off as far as what poly floss is, I was curious if you could kind of walk through the basics of it’s, it’s a machine that can take plastic waste and turn it into kind of like a cat cotton candy, like fibrous plastic material.
Is, is that correct? ? A high, high level overview. , could you, can you kinda walk through what the machine is and like, what the inspiration was behind its creation? Okay. So
yeah, the, uh, Polyflow, um, well initially we were looking at, um, Considering waste as the, the new resource in a way. So we were focusing on waste and um, we realized by visiting a series of initiatives in, um, who are dealing with waste, um, that plastic was a huge issue because there’s no tool, there’s not knowledge, uh, around plastic recycling, uh, contrary to metal or wood or text.
and, uh, and we started analyzing plastic waste and plastic use, and we realized that the unique, one of the unique capacities of plastic is to be able to take different forms, right? It can be squishy, it can be, um, hard, it can be, uh, foam, et cetera, et cetera. And so this in particular, the, the foamy aspect or the cushiony aspect is very unique to plastic.
Any, any, you know, anywhere you. Something cautiony, it needs to be plastic in, I don’t know, sofa or shoes or, and so we were looking at ways to, uh, create foam out of, out of waste plastic in a very, uh, simple way. Um, and that’s when we thought of cotton candy , which is not exactly foam, right? It’s, it’s more like a non-woven textile, but it has similar properties.
and um, and, and this is where we started to experiment with, um, with cotton candy principles. Of course it’s different speed, different temperatures, different, um, but it’s this exact same technical logic, right? It’s a rotational heated oven basically where. Uh, fibers are extruded through holes, uh, by centrifugal force and, uh, and, and blown by airflow.
And, um, and these fibers can, um, of course be used as a foam, so for packaging or for ventilation. We might talk about it, uh, later on, but we also realized, and this wasn’t necessarily planned in the beginning, It’s an unwoven textile, so suddenly we can also use it as a textile so we can, uh, felt it, we can weave it, we can knit it.
Um, so it opened up a whole lot of new techniques to, to, to be able to use waste plastic. And we can also remelt it in, in pretty simple molds. Uh, now of course it wouldn’t make sense to re remelt it totally and get back. a clean, plain, rigid, uh, plastic piece because wouldn’t need to go through the fibers, but you can remelt it partially.
And then you obtain, um, a mono composite, uh, multi structural piece, right, with some parts which are still foamy and, uh, and some parts which are rigid, which can make, uh, very interesting and light and insulating pieces. So this is kind of the, the very brief and fast context.
Yeah. And from a technical standpoint, like, uh, I don’t know if like Christoph, you’d be the one to answer this one, but like for the machine itself, like how big is it and like how difficult, like how does it operate?
Like how does the machine actually operate? Um, so as Amil said, is the exact same principle as Kandy floss. Mm-hmm. . Um, so the material. Added in a, in a rotating part that is also hitted. Um, and, um, you know, the plastic melts reaches, um, the correct viscosity and then is able to go through the tiny perforations.
And, um, and then that’s how we are basically, it’s like a drop that pulls, um, fiber behind it. Okay. Um, and then we, we blow on it to direct it towards the collecting unit. And also it is blowing, tends, um, helps to cool down and stretch the fiber to make something very thin and very long. So, and, and of course it’s similar to candy floss, but, uh, of course the settings, the temperature, the speeds, the everything is different and we had to, we had to adapt it to.
Right. So now, now you’re, you’ve got this candy floss that you, you’ve described how you can kind of change its form. So it sounds like you can make insulation, you can make something semi rigid. What are the things that you’re actually making out of it today? Like what are you actually creating now? We are mostly working with the insulation.
Mm-hmm. , but on previous project, we’ve, we’ve been, um, Putting this machine in, um, in a workshop in Madagascar where the team there is able to, to thread the fibers into, into thread. Uh, and then it’s been woven. It’s been knitted. It’s, it’s very nice because you can’t really recognize the original of the material when you see the, the.
Right. It’s, it’s very interesting. So it can be made into pretty much whatever you want. Essentially. It can be made into insulation for a home, blankets, clothing, it can be multipurpose. Yeah. One, um, something I like very much with the textile applications that, um, even though it’s a textile, it’s still, um, thermoplastic.
So you can, you can weld certain areas, keep other areas, uh, Um, and can often interesting perspectives. Right? So, Audrey, to ask you a question here, what is the application like? What is the company focused on? Like of how you’re actually applying this? Like where are you applying this today? . So currently for the insulation part you mean?
Yes, for insulation is, is actually starting 2013, uh, the association, arch Architecture Association School of London called us to know if we could use local waste, turn it into insulation and directly insulate the building on site. Uh, so it was a test run. He worked, uh, the building has been certified and is still here today.
And from there we’ve. Testing, realizing we have the same insulation value as Rock Bull. Mm-hmm. , for example. And, and from that we’re starting doing more, more testing. In 2020 we’ve been called by a, by engineers at Border Norway, uh, asking us if we could work with them, uh, to create insulation for emergency shelter locally for disaster relief from which we teamed up with Field Ready Turkey and other n.
uh, that is expert for delivering in the field, uh, in particular for disasters, uh, but also for refugee camps. And from that, together, the three of us, uh, organization have been developing insulation, panel insulation products such as sleeping bag or blanket, all made locally depending where we’ve been called.
For two years, our main focus was Northern Syria, where we’ve been delivering insulation panel for refurbished houses. And more recently, in the past two weeks, our team in Turkey Fi already has been working on insulation panel for the earthquake, uh, issues where emergency tens have been put in, uh, the center of GasTech where, uh, we are based with them.
So if they’ve been insulating those shelters for people to work in, uh, to have safer places, and they’re currently working, uh, around the clock, uh, for the disaster relief. So it sounds like this machine is small and portable and you can place it exactly where it’s needed. So you’re producing the materials where they’re actually getting.
Correct. Right. Yeah, exactly.
I mean, this is, this is probably because there are of course, other fiber machines, um, out there, but it’s, uh, nearly all of them are at industrial scales, which means that, uh, it’s of course the plastic which needs to be transported to. The facilities, and also it requires huge, um, huge, uh, facilities in investment, et cetera, et cetera.
So here what we do is we have this field friendly machine in a way, it’s a, it’s a small machine. It stands on a standard pallet so we can transport it and it goes. The field, I mean, where the waste is and also where very often actually we try to tackle three problems at the same time. And, and this is really the aim also with the waste for warms project with field ready and engineer without border is three aims.
One is to recycle plastic locally. Second is to give, Uh, job opportunities because of course it creates activity. So there’s, um, it’s also part of, uh, livelihood programs. And, uh, the third aspect is of course to produce objects or materials that are useful. in those context where very often these materials are scarce or difficult to find or difficult to access.
So in the case of refugee camp, it’s very clear there. There’s problems with plastic, there’s problem of unemployment and there’s problem of insulation, uh, during, uh, winter and summer actually. Mm-hmm. . So we try to tackle these three, uh, challenges, um, with, with one machine that can then, of course, Change place, right?
It goes into one camp, it insulate, it processes the plastic, but it can then move to the next camp. Once, uh, this camp has been insulated, of course, sometimes they’re huge, huge camps, so , so it might take quite a long time. But principle is that it’s, it’s really a transportable. and versatile machine that can be also, it’s fairly easy to use.
Um, so it, it requires a bit of training, but it’s, it’s doesn’t require very high technical skills. So we can also like, um, uh, place it in areas, um, basic knowledge, um, can be acquired.
So it does sound. Is easy to operate, so it’s easy to train. So when you’re moving this, like you went to Turkey or Syria, is there somebody from Poly Falls that’s there the entire time running it, or are you training somebody there and then they’re operating it on their own?
we are training people, uh, on site. So for example, the Turkish example in, we have a workshop in GasTech University, uh, with the machine over there. And our team has been trained. They’re all engineers, uh, being trained on the machines. They can do the maintenance. Uh, and work. So we went there a couple of time to work with them, understand what’s feasible, where are the source of plastic on site?
Can we have an association with a rec local recycler that can help us for the first part, which is collecting, sorting, and, uh, cleaning the plastics. Uh, and now they are fully autonomous, uh, with the machine and the product. . And what kind of, that leads two questions for me. Like where, where are you sourcing the plastics locally and what kind of plastics are we talking about?
Like p e t I’m assuming like plastic bottles and things like that. So what about those two things? So we poly plus only opioids with polypropylene and uh, P E T plastics. So for example, the plastic. Uh, water bottle plastics are one of the most common that we recently started working with in GasTech currently, to be honest, is yogurt containers.
Uh, those really large white, uh, yogurt container. We found a recycler that palletize, uh, those waste and clean them and can deliver to our team in, in Turkey, of course there is different sources, but usually it’s food containers that is the most useful for us.
Yeah, there’s quite a lot of, of different, I mean, when we talk about polypropylene, um, people might not know what it is, but it’s actually present really everywhere.
Right. , I mean, p e t is easy because it’s very recognizable. It’s, you know, plastic bottles and it’s always p e t and it’s, and it’s very often also quite. . Mm-hmm. . Uh, but then PP is present in many, many different forms. Um, in medical packaging, in food packaging, in toys for kids in, uh, car parts, um, in carpets, uh, and um, uh, plastic cups, you know, all these, uh, pp and uh mm-hmm
And this is a plastic that is very useful because it’s very flexible. So it means also the fibers are very. Afterwards. Mm-hmm. can be worked out, you know, uh, really as a textile without breaking or anything. Right? There are other plastic that we can process, um, but at, at the moment, we don’t necessarily want because they’re.
Uh, much more dangerous, uh, to melt, right? They release gas and, uh, for example, posty or abs. These are plastic that we recommend not to use, uh, because in this context, although we try to, you know, set up and, uh, support in setting up, uh, very strict security measures and. and, um, you know, masks and protection for all the works, etcetera.
We are not there to control what they actually use and what kind of, of, um, um, so we try to be quite restrictive on, on the type of plastic they they use in order to make sure that they are not. Harming themselves with Right. Dangerous things.
So technically it is possible, but it’s dangerous to do because Exactly.
we, at the moment, we, we’d rather Yeah. Say not to use it . Yeah, yeah. Um, rather than, than, you know, say it’s possible and then, and then people harm.
Okay. Themselves. So that sounds like one of the big limitations is just for human safety. There’s certain materials that you use and don’t use. Exactly. Okay.
How long has it taken for you guys to get to this point that you’re at right now? Like from the seat of the idea to where you are now, how long has it taken you to get here?
Well, 10 year, more than 10 years now. Um, yeah, actually initially, I mean the machine, um, and the process. , but also all the other elements like, you know, finding the right context, finding, developing the right products.
Mm-hmm. , um, finding also our, our kind of business model was very long. Um, and we tested many different things. Initially when we started having these machines, we, we thought maybe, Be producers ourselves, like making recyclers, being recyclers, that we could also offer services to like large companies, to recycle their waste if they have a constant waste.
We thought of, you know, leasing. We thought of the many different ways and eventually I think the most interesting thing for us and for the all the people we met is to actually. , you know, produce cell install, train on these machines. This is the core of our knowledge. And, um, and the machine themselves have also evolved a lot.
I mean, there’s been at least 10 different machines, really, uh, on the, you know, we have different versions with. Different technology sometimes with electrical heating, sometimes with gas heating, sometimes with, you know. And um, and the first one we’re resembling candy floss machines, uh, very much. But now it doesn’t necessarily look like candy floss machine anymore.
It’s the same technology, but we’ve. We, we have now something that is really dedicated to plastic recycling rather than, you know, a, a kind of cotton candy, right? Um, hacked machine .
So initially it was a hack and then it slowly morphed into something more specialized.
Well, we did it. I said we, we, we, we never really just bought a, a candy floss machine that used it with plastic uhhuh , but we.
basically building the exact same thing, right? Uh, we needed to be able to control the heat and the speed, et cetera, so ourselves, but really the design was very similar and, um, more and more it became, uh, very specialized, um, machine with which, Uniquely for plastics we wouldn’t work with, with . Yeah. With sugar anymore.
Yeah. I’m, I’m curious, like, I was curious what, what the biggest challenges are, like during that evolutionary process. What were the biggest challenges that you were running into as you were evolving the machine? Um, I think it’s the different types of plastics. Um, because they, you know, they all melt at different temperature.
They degrade at different temperature. So I, I think it was the temperature control that is sort of challenge. Mm-hmm. . So you have to, you have to dial in the temperature for the specific feed stock? Yes. Okay. And of course, you know, we are dealing with, uh, recycled plastic. So one day it’s, uh, you know, A another day it’s type B, so it’s always a bit different.
Um, we never really know the exact, uh, composition of the plastic, so we always have to adapt temperatures and speeds to, to, to what we find. Um, so we, it’s, yeah, we can’t really just give like a setting to the clients. We, we have to give them a range. They have to do some testing also, um, when they get a new batch mm-hmm.
to, to make sure we can. , we can make close with it. Now, this is kind of a broad question that I would curious, like if you all have different answers to this, but what’s your view of the current state of the world when it comes to plastics and plastic recycling? Like how do you, how do you feel about the way things are right now?
Um, yeah, I think it’s pretty, it’s pretty bad. I think ideally we wouldn’t use it for sure, but, um, it’s there and it’s everywhere. And, uh, if we can prolong the. If we can use it for longer instead of burning it, um, and, and benefit from its, um, qualities a bit longer, especially to improve our, you know, life quality in, in the shelter.
I think, you know, why not, right? , I’m assuming you probably feel the same way, Audrey . Uh, no, I feel that way. It’s just a quite large ans uh, questions. Uh, there is also a lack of standardization in term of recycling, uh, every country and then every city and every borough, Ormond in the world, uh, sometime different recycling system, uh, which make it very complicated for the consumer to understand on their level what to do.
Then on the larger. . Uh, actually not everything is recycled. So the world of recycling is not very transparent, again, with the consumer that is part of the problem. Uh, but again, there is also mass, uh, production. Why do we produce in mass carry on producing in mass when actually there is plastic we can reuse, but for some reason we keep producing more virgin plastics and virgin product.
Different question is also a difference of, uh, accessibility in different countries and different economy that makes it also very complex. Um, right. I’m not sure that answered the question. it. It did, yeah. Emil, do you have a, do you have a different take on it? Yeah, yeah.
I mean, um, totally agree with, uh, Christine Audrey, but yep.
I think the, the plastic is isn’t in a way an amazing material. It’s, it’s a material as, as I said, can take many different forms. It’s fairly easy to, to shape and to transform, uh, even to remelt, I mean, to recycle is fairly easy, much easier than metals or, or, or ceramics or, um, But the problem with plastic is that it was born within industry and, and, and, and science.
Um, and there’s no local knowledge. There’s no tools that pre no craft related to plastic that prevails from the industrial scale scaling. So, you know, for metals, for example, I think, I think it’s an accurate number. I think it’s like 90% of metals are at least reused once. Uh, whereas for plastic, it’s, it’s about, uh, 9%, I think eight or 9%.
And this difference, it’s, it’s not, it’s not related to a technical question because as I said, it’s, it’s harder to recycle metals than plastic actually. Requires much more heat, it requires much more precise tools, et cetera. But the difference is, of course, there’s a question of value, but that changes all the time.
Right? Plastic has less value than, than metal. Uh, but I think it’s, it’s because plastic are only relying on industrial scales. It, there’s no local. Specialist as it as there is for metals. You know, metals are, there’s a knowledge in metal, like to recognize a aluminum from steel, from locally. You can already sort things out.
We use locally what is usable, still then sell what’s not us used for industrial, more industrial processes. And so there’s a whole ecosystem that is based on, on, on diffuse knowledge and tools. Fantastic. Doesn’t have. At all. It’s only, uh, industrial. And even recycling is only industrial, which means that industry hates variability, right?
It hates when it gets plus, you know, bunch of plastic mixed with altogether. It can’t process that. It needs pure sources, right? It needs constant consistency, right? So in a way it’s limited. To these 9%, you know, in order to get to, to more than 9%. Of course it would be, we could continue developing industrial scale, but it would actually be much more efficient to have local scale combinations or, or, or, you know, that could be complimentary to the industrial scale and then prepare maybe for the industrial scale.
And, and so I, I think this is really the, the challenge. with plastic. Um, yeah, because production continues to grow every year. This is insane. But I mean, production of plastic globally is still growing. It’s still, um, and so we are, and we don’t know what to do with all these that just pile up everywhere.
some, I mean some of the information I’ve come across is part of the reason we’re still producing so much virgin plastic is cuz it’s cheaper than recycling it. As you point out, it’s an industrial scale recycling where what you’re proposing is kind of flipping the script and it’s like, well, let’s get more local like we do with metals and woods and things like that.
D i, is that going to help reduce the, the recycling cost by making it local?
Uh, well, we think so. I mean, it, it’s of course it’s difficult to, to have, uh, numbers on the material because it’s very contextual. Right? You’re right. It, it requires, um, human resource. I mean, the human power to. To just monitor and, and process the plastic.
And, and wages are completely different if you talk about Madagascar or Turkey or France or so, um, it’s difficult to, to compare the price of insulation, for example, of rock wool to poly floss insulation because it’s actually different everywhere. Right. Um, . But, but definitely, I mean, not, not only, of course Polyflow won’t save the whole problem , uh, far from far, far from it.
But, but supporting these kinds of initiatives I think is, uh, yeah, is definitely, um, a way to. To, to go. And there are many others now, um, you know, projects going the same direction, which we are actually trying to team up with to, to, you know, to, to, to be more powerful together rather than, so that
leads to one of my questions of which was the future of poly floss.
Like you’ve talked about what you’re doing today, and I don’t know who wants to answer this one, but like, where do you see poly floss going in the next, I don’t know, three. 10 years. So do you wanna take that question of like where the future is going for pie floss over the next 3, 5, 10 years? What, what’s the vision of how this could play out?
I guess one of our hope is to deploy more machine, to give more opportunity to more people, to take ownership of the waste, but also to create opportunity in term of business and jobs for themself. Material that is free. Um, again, we would love to be associated with more recycler, more people working with plastics so we can help, uh, together a problem that actually could be solved faster if we all.
like put our heads in it. So that’s one of the hope to deploy more machine, uh, develop more product in not just insulation product, but product made from waste locally, depending on the context we are gonna work with. Um, of course human Italian aid is also a big, uh, ax, uh, access for poly floss. I think we are really interested into working to develop innovation in the field of humanitarian aid, uh, develop.
That’s exciting. Yeah. I think to, to compliment, I, um, it relates also to who we are. I mean, we, we all met, um, in this double master called innovation design engineering in, in, uh, between the Royal College of Art and the, um, Imperial College in London. Mm-hmm. and. This training was really, and I think that’s what we are now, is really to create, let’s say, inventors, right?
Uh, uh, design engineers. But that’s a bit, you know, and, um, and so, that that’s what we do since 10 years. Of course this poly floss, but we all worked on other technologies. We all worked on, on, on different, and actually we see, at least I talk about me, but I think we share that we see poly floss as really the first step in a way as a, as a way to, um, grow a business to understand context.
You know, these, these contexts, whether humanitarian or or development context really well. And to be able in, let’s say 5, 6, 10 years to have, um, uh, resources to then provide alternative technologies also in, in, let’s say, tech for good or, or, you know, ethical, social, and ecological solutions. But not necessarily only related to plastic, because every time we go on site to.
uh, people, we realized that there’s another issue that could be tackled with another, you know, machine or technology or solution. Uh, whether, you know, in, in, in Syria or in Nepal, we have two machines now there or in. Every time we go there, we realize that this may be something else we could do that we try not to disperse yet.
to developing like 10 different machines at the same time. Yeah. So we focus for the moment on plastic recycling and, and there’s still a lot to do. As, as Audrey mentioned, we really want to grow and have an impact on global. , but I think at one point we, we will want to start develop, uh, uh, other technologies and be, again, in a kind of ideation and r and d, uh, to provide other technologies for, for, for these kind of context.
That that’s, I love that the inspiration of you see a problem. It’s not like, oh, what are we gonna do? You, you’re inspired to go, I think I can fix that . Yeah, it’s really cool. . So to kind of round out the, our conversation, one of the questions I’m gonna ask each one of you is kind of like, is there one thing that you’d want people who watch or listen to this to take away from this conversation?
What’s the one thing you’d want them to take away? I have a two part answer to that. Maybe. I think the first one is about team working. One of the things about poly floss is that we had the opportunity to meet on a platform that mixed backgrounds, where I have to say, I’m not sure on which planet I could have met Nick, Emil and Christoph, we all come from four different background, different history, and.
the project exists because of our four background mixed up together, our four point of view, and being fearless because we are together to solve quite, um, overwhelming issue, I have to say. Um, so first is, uh, multidisciplinary teamwork is one of the things that I, we can show that innovation is possible at any level within a team that I have di diverse background and trust each other.
that’s one part. So team, team forming . Okay. The second one is about innovation. Um, even if it’s a simple, it looks like a simple answer. It’s still an answer, uh, in a pool of answer. It’s a possibility. One solution in a pool of solution. So if there were more projects that can tackle such a large issue like plastic together, we could solve, uh, one part of the issue.
I’m not sure I formulate that right guys. I’m sure Amy has a much smarter way to explain it. Amy is the one that writes really well and speak really well.
The PhD guy, so I’m assigned to writing.
What about at you, Christoph? What’s, what’s the one thing? Yeah. I think after spending 10 over years in the. In the dumps and, uh, the recycling field. I think I realized that we called waste. Waste because we don’t necessarily know what to do with it, but as soon as you have, uh, a tool or technique or just an application to use it, certainly it’s not a waste anymore.
It becomes a resource. And, um, I think our mission, uh, as poly floss and, and, and, and this is how I see it in, in the next few years, is really to, to provide these, these tools, uh, to make. See, not waste, but see resource instead. Right. And
Amil, what about you? Uh, okay. Um, I’d say now has some pressure. Now technology is political always in a way this, you know, the scale of a technology.
The easy to use it and to be trained on it. The streams of materials that it generates, you know, the materials that you need first and the material that you produce are never neutral. Uh, if you produce a machine that is meant for industrial scale, then it will generate. An ecosystem that is industrial around it, which then would require certain kind of input, certain kind of output, certain kind of organization, certain kind of companies around it.
And if you think of technology as, as we are trying to do now, on a, on a much smaller scale, uh, with versatile use of different type of plastic, with, um, an an easy access to training. Suddenly it, it generates or it allows to generate very different organization, very different context to be, um, used and to be, uh, applied.
And, and so it allows completely different relat. Also to the surrounding materials, to the potentialities that it, that it, um, in terms of product and, and use. And so, you know, we’ve received sometimes feedback saying, oh, this machine is amazing. You should, you should upscale it. So you should do the exact same, but you know, at factory size.
And, um, and, and, and we have to say all the time, like, no, this is not the point. This is. Would change completely what the context, our clients, the people involved. We wouldn’t work anymore for the humanitarian context or the development context because they don’t have the resource and they don’t have any use for that kind of machine.
So the this, this, the way we develop the technology or in a way, uh, allows to access or to, uh, promote certain kinds. Of political context rather than others.
That’s really interesting that the development of a technology, you need to take that into account because there’s the ramifications that often you don’t think about.
Exactly. Very good. Um, I, I just kinda wanna wrap this up by saying thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. This has been fantastic. I’m very inspired. Companies and people like yourself. Like that’s, this is why I love engineers and designers. It’s like finding problems and figuring out how to solve it.
You don’t run away from the problem. You, you get inspired by it. Uh, so I thank you so much. Well, thank you for like, taking time, uh, with us, actually. Thank you so much for covering the story. Yeah,
yeah, definitely. Thank you, Matthew, for, for the support as well. . Yeah.
Thank you. Yeah, thank you very much. So listeners, what did you think about this conversation between Matt and the Poly floss team?
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