Food waste is a growing issue, with estimates suggesting that nearly one-third of all food produced is scrapped. In the UK, for instance, which has a population of about 66 million, eight million tonnes of food are wasted a year. Like most environmental problems, a significant part of the food waste is caused at an industrial level, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that consumers can do on an individual basis to help reduce, reuse and recycle.
Earlier this week, we wrote about an effort to reuse food waste using 3D printing by Dutch startup UPPRINTING FOOD. Now, we’ll take a look at a project that aims to reduce household food waste using 3D printing in a totally different way.
Product designer Daniel Lloyd, the founder of Daniel by Design, has come up with a smart, 3D printed waste management system that provides vital feedback to consumers and even to communities about waste habits. The product, called Wae, leverages technologies like 3D printing, sensors and smart meters.
As the designer writes on his website: “The overall aim of this project is to reduce waste and increase recycling. Research clearly shows the key factor impacting all domestic waste is a lack of knowledge and accountability. Wae addresses this through providing easily accessible data. The system monitors domestic waste for its mass and volume. The smart meter then interprets this data into a format that can easily inform households on key facts including the percentage of each type of waste. The smart meter produces a set of analytics to inform and educate users as a means to change behaviours over time.”
As a graduate in Product Design Engineering from Liverpool John Moores University, Lloyd was well equipped to come up with a functional and aesthetically pleasing product. Moreover, the designer received financial support for the Wae project through The Environment Now program, part of UK-based initiative Our Bright Future.
When it came to prototyping the smart waste management system, Lloyd reached out to rapid prototyping company Ogle for consulting help.
Together, Ogle and Lloyd modified the original CAD design to ensure that wall thicknesses would be able to support the weight of trash, that the lid would move properly and other functional features.
In the end, a semi-functional Wae prototype was produced using an Ipro 8000 stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer, whose large build volume allowed for all of the device’s parts to be printed at once. SLA also enabled Lloyd and Ogle to achieve high quality finishes, requiring minimal post-processing. The Ogle team finished the prototype with a custom paint palette and assembly.
“I’d been recommended to Ogle by a friend and looked at their work online; it’s impressive. I then met Matt White and could see the quality of the samples he had,” said Lloyd. “They offered loads of support to a first-time designer who wanted to get to know everything. I’m working towards developing a company that specialises in sustainable and social-impact projects. Ogle were an exceptional first-time partner.”