Nov 3, 2017 | By Tess

A man from Western Australia has taken it upon himself to launch a plastic recycling plant in Perth which will turn plastic PET waste into 3D printing filaments. The project is going by the name of Greenbatch.

It is not always clear what happens to the recycled plastic once it is taken away from your curb. In Western Australia, for instance, people were shocked to find out that their plastic recycling was not being processed locally but was actually being sold and shipped on the “international waste market.”

One resident, engineer Darren Lomman from Perth, decided that something should be done about the situation and set out to establish Western Australia’s own first plastic reprocessing plant.

He explains to ABC what pushed him to action: "Because there are no plastic reprocessors in Western Australia, they are basically forced to sell it on the international waste market to whoever will buy it. Some of the ships full of plastic will be bought by reprocessors, who will recycle it and turn it into new products.”

"But a big lot of it is bought by waste incinerators who burn it in energy recovery processors to generate electricity. But it is such a polluting thing for our world,” he added. He also notes that a statistic saying there would be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 spurred him on as well.

By establishing a plastic recycling plant in the region, Lomman believes he can give something back to his community: a more sustainable future and a local supply of 3D printing filament.

We’ve seen it before: plastic PET bottles being transformed into printable filament, and there are even devices that let you process it in your own home. Lomman is aiming to scale this trend up for the whole of Western Australia.

The reprocessing plant will start off by recycling only PET plastic, the type of plastic used to make water and soda bottles and which is perfectly suitable for making 3D printing filaments. Lomman hopes to supply schools and other community organizations with the 3D printing materials.

"About 70 per cent of high schools have 3D printers. Primary schools are starting to get them.I've even seen a pre-primary with a printer,” he said. "So, we are really leveraging that, combining that huge new growing market with our waste problem and creating an entrepreneurial solution that kind of harnesses both of those.”

So far, Lomman has already reached agreements with 50 local schools. The idea is that the schools will collect PET waste and Greenbatch will regularly come to pick it up to bring to the reprocessing facility. Once the plastic waste has been repurposed as filament, it will be delivered back to the schools for use.

In keeping with the community spirit of the project, Lomman has decided not to allow any commercial investments in Greenbatch and has instead opted to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the initiative.

"We are not taking any commercial investment. We don't want it driven by people making money," he explained. “We are doing it as a community initiative, not a money maker.” So far, the crowdfunding campaign has already raised over AU $43,000.

Lomman is no stranger to charitable causes, as the Australian engineer launched his very own charity, the Dreamfit Foundation, at the young age of 19. This initiative was aimed at developing devices for people with disabilities. When it was recently bought by a large not-for-profit organization, Lomman took up the plastic recycling cause.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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Fernando wrote at 11/4/2017 11:25:42 AM:

Cool, but what he will do to recycle 3d printed objects that were made using his recycled filament? Some 3d printed objects are bulk pieces of plastic, much more dificult to recycle than a thin botle. Industries will keep to produce botles, maybe selling to them could be a better answer than 3d filaments.

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