Precious Plastics aims to create opportunities for Aboriginal fibre artists in the remote Northern Territory community of Numbulwar to produce marketable, cultural arts products from recycled plastic waste.
Aboriginal women in Numbulwar are renowned for their unique fibre art and basket weaving using traditional Pandanus and Ghost Nets (abandoned fishing nets) however, these materials are not always accessible. With no recycling facilities in the community an abundance of plastic debris readily available, produced through consumption and tidal currents that push rubbish from Asia to the coastline of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The ‘Precious Plastics Numbulwar project was initiated in collaboration with Macquarie University Engineering Department, students are building a series innovative plastic recycling machines adapted from open-sources blueprints, which break down discarded plastic and re-purposes it into an extruded yarn.
The Numbulwar women will use the yarn to weave contemporary, innovative and high-quality furniture and homewares, forming the basis for their own sustainable cultural arts social-enterprise. Contributing to the development and growth of the Aboriginal arts sector, providing significant economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits that extend to the individual artist, the local community, and wider Australia.
The Precious Plastics project is currently seeking funds to support the transportation of the machines from Sydney to Numbulwar, and the facilitation of training for community members.
Precious Plastics Numbulwar creates opportunities for individual artists and the community to use their unique cultural identity as a way to participate in the economy. This project is driven by a core group of 10 Aboriginal women, respected Elders, renowned for their artistry in weaving.
This inclusive social enterprise supports the wider community enabling collaboration with the local Aboriginal groups including, builders and carpenters, rangers, youth, community members, plus local organisations. It is anticipated that 30 people will be directly involved in the project, creating a ripple effect that will impact the wider community.
This project supports an increase in knowledge, the maintenance and transmission of culture, and a better understanding of business. It facilitates increased networks, recognition from peers and the wider Australian community, skill development and a regenerated interest in culturally relevant art forms. It fosters improved self-empowerment, promoting health, well-being and an opportunity to build leadership.