3D printing from recycled PET bottles
Plastic waste is an issue that should concern us all.
Our oceans are currently drowning in plastic, destroying not only biodiversity but also our climate in the long term.
Currently, three quarters of the trash in the ocean is plastic, with 4.8 - 12.7 million tons of plastic waste entering the oceans every year. These mountains of plastic are a constantly growing problem and cost the lives of tens of thousands of animals such as fish, turtles and corals every year.
The biggest problem is the long decomposition time of the plastic which can take up to several hundred to thousands of years. Until the plastic decomposes completely, it becomes smaller and smaller particles. These tiny water-insoluble plastic particles are called microplastics. When we walk on the beach, we hardly notice it, but there is microplastic next to the sand between our toes. Microplastics have a much greater effect on all marine life, these small particles are often mistaken as plankton by marine animals and swallowed, allowing plastic to enter our food chain.
Through the consumption of marine animals, plastic thus also enters the human organism. The effects of microplastics on the body have not yet been fully researched. But it is often the case that plastic contains additives such as plasticizers or flame retardants that not only harm marine life, but also have a direct negative impact on human health.
Alternative plastics made from renewable raw materials are one solution.
In the meantime, there are already very good alternative plastics that are not produced from petroleum, but from renewable raw materials. A good example is PLA, which is also industrially biodegradable. PLA on the one hand reduces the long lasting negative impact of plastic waste due to its much faster degradability and on the other hand it does not contain toxic substances like plasticizers or flame retardants.
At Biocraftlab, we therefore place great emphasis on using renewable, recyclable and biodegradable plastics such as PLA to manufacture our products using 3D printing.
An economically sustainable approach to recycling PET bottles.
However, in addition to using biodegradable plastic, we would like to go one step further and actively participate in the reduction of existing plastic waste.
By means of 3D printing, a large number of different plastics can be used. Therefore, it was obvious for us to take a closer look at recycled plastics.
With the help of the FFG Eco-Check, we were able to look into the recycling process of plastics and establish initial approaches to recycling a wide variety of plastics. One of the most exciting approaches was the recycling of old PET bottles for the direct production of filament for 3D printing.
The first point of contact for plastic recycling for us was the community of Precious Plastic. By proactively interacting with the organization, we were able to engage with NGOs and manufacturers of innovative recycling machines to establish a sustainable process for recycling old PET bottles.
A recycling process for the use of PET bottles in 3D printing
Our established recycling process involves NGOs, recycled PET filament (rPET) manufacturers, and also individuals who help us provide filament for making sustainable products.
With the launch of our new cookie cutter set marine biology in rPET we would like to take an important step towards sustainable and local production using 3D printing.
We are currently working with the following NGOs:
Project Manaia collects PET bottles from the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.