VISION | To reduce the amount of improperly recycled plastic waste in the environment.
MISSION | To recycle discarded plastics from campus dining halls, coffee shops, and maker labs into 3D printer filament.
WHAT IS 3D PRINTING?
3D Printing Example:
THE PROBLEM THAT WE FACE | According to the EPA, less than 10% of all plastic produced in the United States is recycled. Only 15% is combusted for energy while the remaining plastic just sits in landfills or is improperly discarded. These unmonitored plastics pollute the environment, especially the oceans. Since it takes about 500 years (on average) for plastic to completely decompose, the plastic in the environment will continue to poison wildlife and human life for a long time. (Source)
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic is commonly used in plastic grocery bags, piping, and plastic bottle caps. Most often, it is seen in the form of milk jugs and similar containers for juices and drinks. This plastic specifically shows much promise of being able to be recycled because of its high density compared to other plastics.
In addition, a 3D printer often uses supporting plastic during printing and may sometimes even fail to complete its print job correctly. So plastic is wasted in almost every attempt to print with a 3D printer. Currently, most 3D printers are set to print using polylactic acid (PLA) plastic and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic.
HDPE, PLA, and ABS plastics are present on our campus every day. HDPE can be found in dining halls, coffee shops, and campus markets as bottled drinks, milk jugs, and liquid soap containers. PLA and ABS can be found in maker labs scattered throughout campus as 3D printer filament and collected wastes. Thus, our system prototype needs to deal with all three plastics.
OUR SOLUTION: THE BOTTLES TO MODELS SYSTEM | With our system, we will be able to recycle plastic waste to make new prints, thus repurposing end-of-life plastic products. We seek to increase the amount of plastic recycled and encourage the average population to reuse and recycle their plastic.
SOME OF OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
|Our fully assembled and working extruder||Our best filament (so far)|
OUR NEXT STEPS | We will continue testing our system of cleaning, shredding, extruding, and printing with PLA. In the future, we will test with ABS and then finally move on to polyethylene-based plastics (including HDPE). In transitioning between different types of plastics, we will need to clean our system.