William Sloth is a high school junior from upstate New York. He is an avid 3D printeer and a dedicated environmentalist, as well as – like many young Americans – an entrepreneur at heart. Combining his passions and aspirations he recently founded the 3D printing recycling company, Project PLA, aiming to be part of the plastic solution rather than the plastic problem.
A common misconception about 3D printing is that you can throw your waste plastic in the recycling bin. Unfortunatley this is far from the truth and – although matters are improving on the recyclability of some plastic materials – Sloth and Project PLA set out to educate people on this misconception and to provide a viable solution.
“3D printing plastics such as ABS, PLA, and PETG are “type seven plastics” that are almost never recycled,” Sloth told 3dpbm. “So, when you toss your failed prints in the recycling bin, your recycling facility has to sadly throw these plastics away, as they simply do not recycle these types of plastic.”
The Project PLA process is simple: they ship you a folded up box, and you assemble it, put your 3D printing waste, and ship it back. They offer many different box sizes to suit any amount of 3D printing waste you may have. Along with boxes, Project PLA also offers a cost per pound option. You ship your 3D printing waste to the mand they charge a flat rate of $3 per pound for all the 3D printing waste you send in. You just handle the shipping and save a few bucks by using this option.
Once a box full of 3D printing waste returns to the Project PLA facility, they ship it off to a partner recycling facility, TerraCycle. TerraCycle then sorts out the individual types of plastic and properly recycles each. In fact, TerraCycle ships these recycled plastics off to filament manufacturers throughout the United States to be used in the production of new filament. In fact, you could just send your waste to TerraCycle directly, however, their own service costs more than Project PLA’s.
The startup is keeping profit margins fairly low from 10% – 20%, in order to make their services available to more people. Their ultimate goal is to make our service available to as many people as possible and contribute to solving the global plastic overconsumption and under-recycling problem. They are not alone in this effort. Just recently we learned about UK company Lancashire3D offering a similar service on this side of the Atlantic. In fact the interest and sensibility around recycling 3D printing materials has grown to the point that we created a new section on the 3dpbm index focusing on material recycling initiatives.
The idea of plastic recycling has been around for years but perhaps only now – as more and more people become familiar with the different plastic materials by using 3D printing – it can truly become an adopted solution.