This New Machine Can Recycle Plastic Ad Infinitum

Sep 29, 2016


Better Future Factory's Bart Bleijerveld had one of the coolest gizmos at Pittsburgh's recent green products expo: A machine that can recycle plastics into the "ink" for 3D printers.
Credit Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front
Plastic pollution is all around us. You can find it in everything from grocery bags blowing down the road to islands of plastic floating in the oceans. But new technology demonstrated at a recent green products expo in Pittsburgh is getting people to think differently about plastic’s lifecycle.

“So what we have here is a mobile plastic recycling installation,” says Dutch industrial designer Bart Bleijerveld, showing off the new gizmo. “We call it the Perpetual Plastic Project.”

To demonstrate, he drops an ordinary plastic cup into a shredder with a manual crank, and then turns it to break the cup down into smaller pieces. The confetti-sized pieces then go through the extruder—a machine that heats the plastic to 200 degrees and pumps the warm goo through a small hole.

“It’s a bit like toothpaste,” Bleijerveld says.

The end product is plastic wire that’s the “ink” for 3D printers. Bleijerveld’s company, Better Future Factory, uses an industrial-scale version of this model to make printer ink from old car dashboards and refrigerators.

“If you recycle [plastic] into new products, and recycle it into new products, and recycle it into new products—you can actually use the strength of having a long lifetime as a benefit instead of a problem.”

And whatever is whipped up on the 3D printer can go right back into the shredder and become something else.

Want to see the Perpetual Plastic Project in action? Check it out here.

Read more of this and other reports at the website of our partner Allegheny Front.