In a study recently released by the Michigan Technological University (MTU), Joshua Pierce and his group have found that recycling commonplace plastics into 3D printing filament consumes less energy than traditional recycling.
As part of his study Pierce conducted a lifecycle analysis of HDPE milk jugs commonly found in American households. After cleaning, shredding and converting the shredded material into filament Pierce’s team did an analysis of the amount of energy used in the entire process. After crunching the numbers the MTU team found that even compared to a municipal recycling program home recycling used about 3 percent less energy than the civic alternative.
While a 3 percent energy savings doesn’t seem like a lot, when compounded from household to household over time that unused energy could be sold or used in more profitable ways, which could have a major impact on cities. But beyond the savings that could be realized when compared to city and state sponsored recycling programs, people in areas without access to local recycling could see a major increase in energy savings if they chose to recycle their own plastic into print stock.
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