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How can we make additive manufacturing more inclusive and circular?
June 5 - June 6
How can 3D printing technology support the creation of a restorative plastic cycle?
Endeva is a company of experts with the mission to advance inclusive business solutions for sustainable development. ii2030 is our initiative to curate systems change and leverage technology for achieving development objectives. Join the 3D printing track!
How does 3D printing relate to the plastic challenge?
The way we manufacture is changing. New developments in 3D printing are leading to a rise in additive manufacturing and the ability to print larger products. The 3D printing industry is rapidly growing, yet the plastic used to create 3D printing filament is almost entirely virgin. This is poor systems design in a time where our oceans and landscapes are oversaturated with plastic waste. We need to shift from a linear to a circular economy. What if 3D printing technology can help to develop the plastic cycle; recycling it repeatedly and then breaking it down into simpler compunds?
What would an inclusive restorative plastic cycle look like?
• No waste would leakage into rivers, and oceans. Currently, 8 billion tonnes of waste is leaked into our oceans every year. SDG goal 12.2 sets the goal to achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources by 2030.
• Waste pickers would have decent work opportunities within the waste management system. Waste pickers do the dirty work of sifting through trash to pick out valuable recyclable plastics. Yet they earn around 3-5 USD per day and are exposed to multiple risks to their health and well-being.
• Communities would have access to knowledge and tools to recycle plastic locally into useful end products. Low-income communities live in environments heavily polluted with plastic, but many useful plastic products are expensive or unavailable to them. 3D printing is useful for small batches of products as well as for customised or prototype products. For many (remote) communities, this raises the opportunity to create products with local value using local plastic waste as a resource.
• At end of life, plastic is broken down safely into compounds that can be used for other purposes. Currently, plastics break down extremely slowly and release toxic compounds into the environment. Scientists have found ways to speed up the break-down using enzymes that could, in the future, provide a plastics exit strategy.
How can we get there?
Additive manufacturing has tremendous potential to change how we produce and consume plastic goods. Using waste plastic as a resource for 3D printing could divert the stream of plastic from landfills and waterways, into inclusive busienss models enabling people to create the products they need. Solutions exist, the challenge lies in finding models that work. Outcomes of the co-creation could be tested in Asia, e.g. in Thailand, Indonesia or in Africa e.g. Lesotho, Kenya, Tanzania.
Who would we like to participate?
Full Circle Filament (FCF) FCF is a start-up that seeks to close the loop in 3D printing. They envision a decentralised circular economy where our hubs recycle plastic waste into 3D filament on the spot and print, collect and recycle end products for the local economy.
• Additive manufacturing companies
• Organisations creating recycled 3D printing filament
• Corporate manufacturers and users of plastic resins and products
• Packaging companies and material scientists focussing on decompasable plastics
• Development partners experienced in working with waste picking communities
• Sustainable production and consumption policy makers