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Reflow turns plastic waste into 3D print filament to lift waste pickers out of poverty – 3ders.org (blog)

by • May 3, 2016 • No Comments

May 4, 2016 | By Alec

Do you remember the Dutch social enterprise Reflow? In early 2016, this beginup announced an informative and economic solution for cleaning up the expanding waste mountains in the developing world: a 3D printing ecosystem that recycles PET waste by turning it into ethical filament. Not only can this manufacture 3D printing additional environmentally friendly, it can in addition greatly improve the lives of folks in developing countries by providing waste pickers with livable wages. The Dutch beginup has been working complex to set up tiny production facilities in Africa and other developing regions, and has only launched a Kickbeginer campaign to sell their ethical PET filament rolls for a competitive price.
In countries such as Tanzania, approximately all trash is illegally dumped resulting in shanty towns that are packed with waste. In the country’s capital city of Dar es Salaam, waste pickers earn less than $1.50 for a twelve hour day of collecting waste, that and so ends up in landfills or gets burned. What’s additional, the waste pickers are social outcasts that live in atrocious circumstances. Fortunately, the team at Reflow has come up with an interesting solution: the establishment of 3D printing ecosystems that not only provide manufacturers with inexpensive
recycled filament, but in addition improve the livelihood of waste pickers.

It is a solution that takes full advantage of the ongoing 3D printing revolution, that is increasingly reaching emerging economies as well. Africa in particular is seen as a growth market, where decentralized production may donate a massive boost to tiny businesses by bypassing existing economic roadblocks. African beginups can of course import expensive filament, but they are may already surrounded by plastic materials. Under Reflow’s guidance, waste pickers can be paid livable wages to collect PET waste that can be turned into 3D printing filament at local facilities. Up to 30 percent of the profits can be passed on to the local pickers, while the filament itself can provide a sustainable boost to advancement in that same region. And, of course, the waste mountains can begin to shrink.


It is a rad concept that is in addition assisted by Reflow’s great technological advancements. They have turn it intod a <$1,000 extruder that can convert PET waste into filament, that is may already being utilized in several tiny-scale production facilities all over the world. As the beginup’s founder Jasper Middendorp explained, the yett was born out of his experiences in Kenya. “Just seeing waste collectors, how they live, what they have to do for the plastic, and how they struggle to assist their families,” he recalled. “It begined of seeing what are the ways we may assist waste collectors improve their lives, and what are the high value products we may manufacture.”
For these reasons Middendorp decided to assist developing countries exploit a disparity in the 3D printing industry. Even yet filament usually costs additional than $25 per kilogram, plastic itself costs as little as seven cents per kilogram, and can be recycled at a quite low cost. Combine that with a expanding demand for filament (According to a new Gartner prediction, the 3D printing device market can go on to double in dimensions over the coming years), and there’s a massive opportunity to manufacture cost-effective recycled filament.


The ambitious beginup is already working complex to expand their production facilities, and is exploring several ways to set up a sustainable economic ecosystem. 120 PET bottles can be turned into a single kilogram of filament, and has the economic power to increase picker wages by up to twenty times. “The true magic of 3D printing as a tool can only be unleashed when we direct it at real world problems and put it in the hands of those who require it the many. This is why we invest 25% of our profits into amazing local making initiatives, of 3D printing devices turn it intod of e-waste to tiny scale CNC milling equipment,” Middendorp says. This can, he argues, turn it into local economic value and thus additional jobs.
ReFlow’s initially goal is to deplete their initially 5000 rolls of recycled PET filament – turn it intod on site in Tanzania with the assist of local partners. According to ReFlow, its high end is depletely up to par with market standards. Yesterday, they launched a Kickbeginer campaign to manufacture this recycled filament on the market and gather the funds to expand their enterprise. The rolls are on the market for the competitive price of only €25 as an early bird special (around $28 USD). Fantastic 3D printed works of art turn it intod with recycled PET are unlocked with higher bids. If you are interested in backing this rad cause, check out their crowdfunding campaign here.


If the campaign is successful, the gathered funds can go to extending their production ability in Africa. The ambitious company is in addition looking to other cities in developing countries. “We ponder the innovation can in fact mature in these countries. A lot of the problems the innovation solves around distribution and transport are bigger there,” he says.
Over the future few years, they hope to sell up to 50,000 kg of filament. If successful, that may mean up to 6,000,000 plastic bottles are removed of the streets and up to $200,000 can be directly funneled into low income jobs. This 3D printing ecosystem can have a massive impact on the daily lives of the poorest in the world.

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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