While a large percentage of plastic we use in everyday lives is recyclable, there are still those items that cannot be recycled. These include various potato chip and other quick snack bags, which are needless to say, quite abundant. However the company 3D Brooklyn, which offers 3D printing services, has come up with a great solution to this problem. They have partnered with Terracycle, and together they created a way to use this unrecyclable packaging as raw materials for their printers.
The process starts by Terracycle first turning the collected chips and plastic snack bags into plastic pellets. They then hand these over to 3D Brooklyn that turns them into the ABS PP/PE polymer filament needed for printing.
In this way, those using 3D printers get a cheaper filament they can use in their designs, and the world gets a new way of recycling waste that was not recyclable before. Since one of the main criticisms of 3D printing is the plastic waste it produces, either by failed printings, or those that need a redo. Using already recycled plastic for the process is therefore a great idea, especially if the goal is to create and maintain a sustainable industry when it comes to 3D printing.
A 1-pound spool of filament they create in this way is made up of 45 recycled polypropylene and polyethylene bags. 3D Brooklyn sells this filament for $24 per spool on their website, while they also use this material for projects with their own name on it.
With 3D printing on the rise, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more such ingenious solutions. Let’s hope that this also eventually leads to lower price tags on the actual machines, which is probably the one major obstacle to wider adoption of 3D printing.