Refil: Printing a brighter future

Like many of us who wish for a cleaner future I have been inspired by the emerging stories of innovation and sustainability.  Finding a solution to the ever increasing amount of plastic debris and changing public perception about the way in which use plastics seems a gigantic undertaking.  The world is choking on plastic debris from past and present generations with no sign of slowing down.

Are we ever going to find a solution that will kill the need to manufacture new plastic?

I recently stumbled across this innovative 3D printing company named Refil who are making 3D printer filament using recycled plastics.   It’s the brainchild of Rotterdam based design agency Better Future Factory (BFF), founded by five alumni from the Delft University of technology and they are definitely onto something very exciting.  Refilament-packaging-labelThis clever bunch have come up with a way to offer the makers of the world a 3D printer filament that is fully recycled, with a quality that is comparable or exceeds premium non-recycled filaments. After years of extensive testing and fine-tuning they have come up with fully recycled ABS filament made from car dashboards and PET filament made from old PET bottles.

Phew!  There’s hope on the horizon.  refilament-Keyvisual.pet_At present, most plastic waste is perceived as valueless, it ends up in landfills or incinerators. Only a small fraction of the plastic waste is recycled. Unfortunately, much of the discarded plastic ends up in our rivers, the sea (so called “plastic soup”), forests and inside animals.  Plastic waste is a global problem and is interfering with our food chain and ecosystem.  “Toxin infused Salmon anyone?”

3D printing is today’s trendiest industrial revolution and the word on the street is that it will soon be a household item along with the TV and washing machine.   A brilliant form of technology with infinite possibilities for manufacturing and creatives…the only catch is that it prints in plastic and will create a tsunami of new plastic waste.

Now with innovators like Refil the 3D printing boom could end up significantly reducing the amount of new plastic being produced as well as recycling our existing plastic waste.

Why continue to make and use new plastics when there’s a world full of old plastic to re-use?

What’s so exciting is that if this recycling process can continue to be refined then a sustainable option may finally become a viable economical option for manufacturers.  With an incentive ($$$) to start the clean-up,  manufacturers and consumers together can take responsibility for the huge mess we’ve made of the planet and offer a real and sustainable move forwards to a cleaner future.


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