“Filament prices are so high that places like Protoprint could sell their filament at half that price and still give pickers a living wage while doing good for the environment,” said Pearce.
It’s old news that open-source 3D printing is cheaper than conventional manufacturing, not to mention greener and incredibly useful for making everything from lab equipment to chess pieces. Now it’s time to add another star to the 3D printing constellation. It may help lift some of the world’s most destitute people from poverty while cleaning up a major blight on the earth and its oceans: plastic trash.
At the center of the movement is a new set of standards inspired by fair trade products ranging from diamonds to chocolate.
“We are creating a new class of material called ethical 3D printing filament, like fair trade coffee,” said Joshua Pearce of Michigan Technological University. “It’s a way to help the poorest of the poor up the economic ladder.”
Waste pickers in the developing world barely eke out a living scouring landfills for trash to sell. They usually don’t bother with plastic, however, because it has almost no value.
But thanks to an emerging market, waste plastic may soon be a more alluring target; it can serve as a feedstock for 3D printer filament. What makes it especially attractive is the cost of conventional filament made from virgin plastic: about $35 to $50 a kilogram.
Pearce’s group has already developed a recyclebot that turns milk jugs and other plastic trash into filament for pennies on the dollar. And next-generation commercial-grade recyclebots are creating opportunities for businesses. But for waste pickers to truly benefit, Pearce says, the recycled filament industry will need to adhere to certain fair labor and environmental practices.
Here’s how it would work.
The Latest on: Fair Trade Plastic
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The Latest on: Fair Trade Plastic
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- Fyffes ditches plastic with paper bands on organic bananas on May 17, 2019 at 9:41 am
The banana band, to be used on organic fair trade bananas at retail, is fully recyclable and made from Kraft paper pulp, according a news release. The company researched sustainable packaging options ... […]
- The Body Shop launches in-store take-back scheme for plastic packaging on May 14, 2019 at 3:03 am
Under the partnership, The Body Shop will purchase 250 tonnes of recycled plastic which is certified as “Fair Trade” by the NGO during 2019, for inclusion in its range of 250ml haircare bottles. This ... […]
- Bengaluru plans to make plastics recycling initiative on May 12, 2019 at 10:01 pm
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- Bengaluru startup launches plastics recycling initiative with The Body Shop on May 11, 2019 at 2:37 am
Hasiru Dala Innovations, a Bengaluru based waste management startup that works on creating better livelihoods for wastepickers, has launched a Fair Trade Plastics Recycling initiative in association ... […]
- The Body Shop Buys 250 Tons of Community Trade Recycled Plastic on May 9, 2019 at 1:59 pm
Both companies say this is a world first for Fair Trade-certified recycled plastic. Verified by the World Fair Trade Organization, Plastics For Change works to help global brands and manufacturers ... […]
- 'Fair Trade Plastics' pays waste pickers, improves recycling collection on May 9, 2019 at 7:58 am
Plastics For Change and retailer The Body Shop have formed a partnership to launch a project focusing on "Fair Trade Plastics" to get more plastic waste into the recycling stream. Plastics For Change ... […]
- Inside a Global Beauty Brand's Mission to Invest in the Workers Who Make Plastic Recycling Possible on May 9, 2019 at 6:59 am
Since last year, the organization has been partnering with international beauty brand The Body Shop and the world's first fair trade-certified plastics recycler Plastics for Change to create a supply ... […]
- Lush launches plastic packaging-free store in UK on January 26, 2019 at 7:43 am
with the concept of ceasing all plastic packaging. (Shutterstock/canbedone) British cosmetics retailer Lush recently opened its first Naked store in the United Kingdom, stating an ethos focused on ... […]
- Can design solve the world's plastic problem? on September 19, 2018 at 10:56 pm
We designed our way into it and we have to design our way out of it." This year, the annual London Design Fair trade show has crowned plastic its material of the year, inspired by the number of young ... […]
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