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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770520000The Allegheny Front is a radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania. The Allegheny Front began in 1991 and continues to serve the community as the most insightful source of local and regional environmental news and information on the radio. The program explores environmental issues affecting the community through stories, interviews, news, and commentaries.

This New Machine Can Recycle Plastic Ad Infinitum

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.