Plastic consumption and plastic pollution are key contributors to the globe’s climate crisis. A non-renewable material, plastic has become a ubiquitous part of our day-to-day lives, as we buy products made of it and too frequently throw it away. As plastic continues to take its toll on our environment, it is at least a little bit heartening to see how certain people and organizations are facing the problem head on, often in creative and innovative ways.
The New Raw, a Rotterdam-based research and design studio, is one such group. The studio’s mandate is essentially to turn plastic waste into 3D printable products and installations. Recently, the group partnered with the Zero Waste Lab in Thessaloniki—a recycling facility that operates under The New Raw and Coca Cola’s Zero Waste Future Program in Greece—to expand its “Print your city” initiative.
The “Print your city” project, which first launched in Amsterdam, invites citizens to contribute their plastic waste and help to design 3D printable furniture to be placed around their city. The plastic waste is then processed by the lab into a 3D printable material, which is then used to produce the custom street furniture.
The idea behind the innovative initiative is to get citizens involved not only in reusing their own household plastic waste but in constructively transforming public spaces within their cities. The New Raw and the Zero Waste Lab also aim to get participants engaged in the recycling process by teaching them about the benefits of a circular economy.
In Thessaloniki, the project’s first 3D printed furniture pieces were printed over the summer and installed along the city’s main waterfront promenade, Nea Paralia. Since then, over 3,000 custom furniture designs have been submitted to the project, which officially launched its website in December. The next public space to be revamped with 3D printed installations will be Hanth Park in the city center, where visitors can expect to soon see 3D printed bike racks, mini gyms, tree pots and all sorts of innovative and ecologically friendly products.
“The 3D printed street furniture has integrated extra functions that promotes a healthy and environment-friendly lifestyle in the city,” The New Raw writes. “Each object can feature a bike rack or a mini gym, a tree pot or even a dog feeding bowl or a bookcase.”
Ultimately, The New Raw and Zero Waste Lab are aiming to recycle four tons of plastic waste through the project, about the amount of plastic waste created by 14 households in Greece. To keep the public as informed as possible, each 3D printed piece of furniture installed in the city will be tagged with the kilos of plastic that it used.