Why 3d printing?
3D printing changes the rules for product development and production, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. It's not fast, it's actually pretty slow. We think of plastic products being made in seconds or minutes, but 3D prints take hours to days. The surface finish is also a challenge with printing. Each layer of the print is visible and tactile, especially on sloped surfaces. Lastly, gravity makes many features difficult to print. That being said, a 3D printer is just a tool and when the tool is the right hands, magic can happen.
The Ramen luminaires, for example, are generated from an algorithmic process that uses the thick deposited layers to generate the exquisite surface texture. Instead of the fighting the printer's resolution we used it to our advantage. In other cases, we focus on the material, such as using cellulose fibers in the plastic to create a texture that diminishes the visibility of layers. Creatively applying this technology is what we wake in the morning thinking about.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the RepRap Project. Without the RepRap Project, we wouldn't have desktop 3D printing like we do today. They removed the barrier to entry by making the technology open-source and affordable. This noble gesture sparked a huge community of inspired people that continues today, pushing 3D printing to be cheaper, better, reliable, versatile, and accessible. Our founder, Guy Snover, has been tinkering with 3D printers since the first MakerBot was released. He designs and builds the printers we use. Years of hands-on experience with the printers allows him to build custom printers tailored to a specific product or technique. A 3D printer is just a tool; masters make their own tools.
First off, let me say it hasn't escaped my attention that we're selling stuff, plastic stuff. Buckminster Fuller Bucky will blow your mind. See his book "Critical Path", William McDonough You gotta check out "Cradle to Cradle" and "The Upcycle", and Annie Leonard Curious how we got into this mess? Annie unpacks it beautifully in "The Story of Stuff" , a few heroes of mine that have shaped how I see the world, all have one thing in common: they are not against stuff, they all see an opportunity for beautiful abundance. The problem isn't stuff: it's what we use, what we use it for, and what we do with it when we're done using it.
As Annie Leonard points out, our economy is a subsystem of the earth's ecosystem, and right now our economy is extremely out of sync. We don't have enough space here to describe all the problems and their interconnected nature. We'll get to it in time. For now, I want to say what our intentions are and what we are doing about them.
Design is intention
We want to make beautiful and durable goods.
We want these objects to be made from existing recycled plastics and never, ever be wasted or be removed from a responsible material cycle.
We want this entire enterprise to provide a net benefit to people and the environment.
We want to be an example of how this can be done.
Intention reveals desire. Action reveals commitment.
We are currently producing goods from either a biopolymer PLA (virgin material) or a recycled PET. Read more about those materials here.
We are working on an in-house process to transform recycled plastic waste into 3D printed goods.
We are working towards Cradle-to-Cradle certification of our products.
We are always looking for ways to collaborate with others to make a positive change.
Maybe it sounds trite but we're not in it to sell you stuff. We're in it to challenge the current system of extraction and waste. You're going to consume stuff no matter what, we all need the essentials in life; we just make sure you have the best possible option. Buying our stuff is helpful because we are a start-up and we are just getting started. Help us turn our intention into action.
Do you influence your environment for better or for worse?
With so much going on in the world and many causes to fight, choosing your battle can be a hard decision to make. Many of us would rather turn a blind eye, and others, will be the reason we see change. What’s important here is not which side you’re on, instead we ask, what motivates you? Each person is gifted with an ability to make a difference, from starting a non-profit organization, to picking up trash off the streets or feeding the homeless – these tiny or major steps can contribute to transforming a community for the better good. Think about it, the footprint we make on this earth is so powerful that living in a sustainable city of the 21st century isn’t as far fetch as it sounds. It all starts with a subtle change in our daily habits.
Sometimes when it comes to recycling, consumers do more harm than good. Even with good intentions, it’s very common to end up with “a-materials-in-the-wrong-place-problem” (MITWPP). The city of Montreal reported in 2014, more than 58.3% of Montrealers recycle plastic materials. This is a big improvement from 2010 where consumers recycled an estimated 53%. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to increase that number to 85% of recycled plastic by 2025. (Global News, June 2018)
This pressure from the government is mostly to encourage people to take action and recycle better. For instance, Recyc-Québec reports that about 7.5% of items placed in recycling bins are contaminated. These recyclable materials include grease, broken glass, or non-recyclables, like Styrofoam. Hence, our issue of a “MITWPP”. The good news is, in comparison to other provinces, Québec’s statistics are relatively low!
What's interesting about recycling in Québec, we had a helper to boost our effectiveness in reducing recyclables and waste. Last year, 40% of reclaimable items were collected and processed into new products, while the other 60% was sold to China (CBC News, Nov 2018), the world's largest importer of recyclable material. China served an important role in dealing with Montreal’s recycling centres. Almost completely dependent on the country's buying power. Unfortunately, early this year, China issued a ban on all imported paper that was over 0.5 per cent of contamination.
The ban was in effect almost immediately and within the first six months, about 6,000 bales of paper and cardboard started piling up at Montreal’s largest recycling facility (Montreal Gazette, March 2018). Rather than transferring bale materials to landfills, Saint-Michel centre decided that it would be better to store it until their facility reached full capacity. It also opened an opportunity to sell marketable materials to post consumers too. Still, these are only temporary solutions. Montreal leaders will need to take the next initiative by investing an already promised $30M to keep facilities afloat. (CBC News, May 2018)
How do you fit into the picture?
Québec’s recycling crisis is the responsibility of all levels of government, consumers, and enterprises. Each person’s role can have a positive impact towards the situation in order to achieve a better outcome. According to Greenpeace, every year, Canada alone accumulates 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, yet only 10-12% are transformed to raw materials. Which tells us; recyclers are making an effort to place everything “recyclable” inside of the blue bin but it looks like, most consumers have been doing it wrong the entire time!
Did you know that contaminated materials end up rejected simply because something like a yogurt container wasn’t rinsed out or a peanut butter jar had a few tablespoons left inside? Following rules can be annoying, especially when we just want to get rid of an item quickly, but taking that extra step is how we’ll become better recyclers. Otherwise, everything will be in vain and many of what we think we’re recycling will go to waste. Try to approach recycling differently; learn about what you CAN and Can NOT recycle to break old habits and learn new ones.
Taking time to sort out waste from recyclables is one piece of the puzzle. This week take a moment to practice your recycling skills and challenge someone to recycle more too, they might thank you for it later!
- Newspapers/magazines, paper, envelopes, paper bags, cardboard tubes, and rolls.
- Unsoiled boxes from cereals, frozen foods, laundry soap, shoeboxes, books, glass bottles, clean milk cartons, and clean juice boxes.
- Food tins, covers, and caps, metal hangers, unsoiled metal trays and plastic foil.
- Clean bottles from any liquid shampoo or laundry soap, clean containers for yogurt and margarine.
- Grocery shopping, dry cleaning bags and clean bags from food products.
NOT RECYCLABLE ITEMS
- Coffee cups such as Starbucks and Tim Horton’s (soiled)
- Pizza boxes and food scraps
- Photos and toys
- Glass or mirrors
- Porcelain and rubber
- No.6 plastic or Styrofoam