Manchester project to turn plastic waste into 3D printing material

A €9.6m project will turn single-use plastic waste into a raw plastic material which can be re-used for the 3D printing process.

The project, which is being led by Manchester Metropolitan University, aims to divert thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill across north-west Europe and create a new economic demand for the uptake of recycled plastic materials by businesses, both locally and further afield.

Approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution make their way into our seas every day and 79% of waste plastic ends up in landfills or as litter.

Currently, plastic products are manufactured from scratch, using virgin material and natural resources. They are used once and are then either sent to landfill or recycled into different, poorer quality products, before ultimately becoming waste.

Using two different innovative technologies – intrusion moulding and additive manufacturing, the project aims to create circular plastic production patterns which could revolutionise the way we look at single-use plastic.

Amanda Reid, programme lead for the University’s Waste to Resource Innovation Network and the project manager, said: ‘By revaluing our existing single-use plastic feedstock and changing consumption and production patterns from a linear to a circular economy, we should be able to make a real difference to the current single-use plastics concern.

The TRANSFORM-CE project is backed by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham. He said: ‘The reduction of single-use plastic is a key focus area for Greater Manchester, and we are committed to helping support behaviour change and to reduce our consumption and production of single-use plastics.

‘The TRANSFORM-CE project is a fantastic example of where industry experts, businesses and research bodies can identify real economic opportunities for the revaluing of Greater Manchester’s single-use household plastic, showing that it is possible to create real value from waste through a disruptive and innovative approach.’

The construction of two pilot plants will take place over the course of the next year. Initial stages of testing will begin on the different feedstock in the coming months.

Photo Credit – Manchester Metropolitan University


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