Typical recycling involves sending off your old cans, bottles, boxes and papers to be re-purposed somewhere far away, sight unseen. Terracycle and 3D Brooklyn allow you to determine what gets made from recycled materials, thanks to a process that turns used chip and snack bags into plastic filament for use in 3D printing.
New Jersey-based Terracycle bills itself as a recycling company that extends the useful life of materials that are typically considered non-recyclable. For example, we've reported in the past on how the company partnered with the city of Vancouver in Canada to collect and recycle cigarette butts.
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In the case of snack bags, the company uses what it describes only as "innovative processes" to extrude the collected waste into plastic pellets that can then be turned into filament for 3D printing.
We've seen a similar invention called "the Filabot," which was created by a university student and capable of turning a variety of plastic materials into filament.
In Terracycle's process, the old bags are converted to the popular plastic 3D printing feedstock known as ABS.
"With the (3D printing) industry growing so rapidly, it's important we provide a recycled alternative to virgin plastic filaments," says TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky. "It's essential to maintaining a sustainable industry."
According to 3D Brooklyn, 45 recycled polypropylene and polyethylene bags are converted to a 1 pound (0.45 kg) spool of filament, which "produces a durable wicker furniture feel."
The spools will be sold for US$24 a piece through a beta launch program on the company's website.
Product page: 3D BrooklynView gallery - 4 images