I'm trying to set up a 3D print recycling system, and I need your input!

Hi everyone!

My name is Jochem, I’m a student in the Netherlands, and you might know me from this video on Story Hopper:

Click for video!

I’m currently doing a project on recycling PLA prints for consumers. I’m trying to get a viable recycling system in order, so not just the technical part of the recycling (of which there have been quite a few great examples so far, by for example Dave Hakkens and the Better Future Factory) but mainly by having several parties coming together to make this possible. I’m starting this topic to tell you about my methods how to come by the best fitting solutions, what my thoughts are so far and lastly to ask the community to think along with me!

The reasons for wanting to come up with a working recycling system are few and are clear: material preservation and limiting the use of farmland for plastics. The former because we are consuming the limited amount of material on earth, which is all we have; the latter because with the growing number of people on the planet, we are likely going to need all available farmland in the future for food production.

So if we have to diminish the use of farmland for plastics production, why don’t we use plastics made from fossil resources? Well, besides some fossil-based plastics like ABS being unhealthy to use in home-3D printing, fossil-based plastics aren’t well-biodegradable, which means they can cause harm to wildlife if we lose control over them, or even end up in our food. But even if we do have control over them in our waste-streams, they will either end up in landfills or burned to provide electricity. And why would we burn our precious planetary resources? Once we do, they’re not usable anymore…

Anyway, so how do I go about coming up with this system? Well, the main idea is this: A 3D printing consumer has a batch of discarded PLA, which needs to go to a recycler, and the recycler returns freshly recycled PLA to the consumer.

I’ve made and attached a mind map of what I think would be several possibilities for connecting the 3D printing consumer to the recycling party. They are split up by contact point, the moment where the consumer comes into contact with the recycling service. I’ve suggested that this is done by filtering three contact point locations: at home, locally (within 10 minutes of driving) or regionally (centralized). Of course, the plastics run both up and down the route. I hope it is clear enough, but if not, let me know!

Now, I want to know how you guys and girls look at this recycling theme! Would you be interested in trading in your old prints for recycled filament? What are your concerns? I hope you’ll want to answer some questions that I’ve provided in a 2-minute survey, via the SurveyMonkey link below:

Click here for survey!

Thanks so much, those of you filling it out! And please, if you have any questions, comments or input, don’t hesitate to speak up! It’s a forum, after all!

I’ve started the same topic on the 3D Hubs Talk forum, but since there is a different community there, with different interest base, I thought it’d be quite interesting to see several views from both communities. I hope the administrators of the board are fine with this post. If not, please let me know. I’m not in any way affiliated with another party but myself.


It’s been fun trying to figure out all the possible routes for the first concept. It’s really easy and insightful by using post-its!

To make sure that the recycling system will fit just right for the user group, it’s vital to know that user group very well. And since you might be the future user group, I need to know you very well! 🙂

Would you like to tell me how you would feel about recycling your 3D prints? What are you hoping for? What are you afraid of? Hoping for some input! 🙂