Guest blog article written by Cassandra Delage, Founder and CEO of Plast’if , a member of the UN-SPBF Green Technology Startup Initiative.
Given some of the surprising environmental benefits of the COVID-19 pandemic, how can the world return to a time of polluting and fragmented global supply chains, where the sources of our products are vulnerable and unknown?
Mass lockdowns and confinement have allowed for a pause and an appreciation for locally sourced and produced items.
Rather than going back to the previous world, it is time to push beyond – shifting to a new local way of consuming. It is time to take care of current resources and repairing instead of replacing within a circular economy.
Repairing is one of the pillars of a circular economy. By repairing an object you extend its lifespan which avoids the need to replace it and use virgin, sometimes rare materials, and large amounts of energy and other natural resources to produce it.
With short product lifespans, consumers are regularly forced to buy replacement phones, washing machines, computers etc.. Although the majority of electronic objects are recyclable, only 20% end up actually being recycled, according to a report from the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) and the UN E-Waste Coalition. Opting for repairing over replacing also cuts down on waste.
3D printing can play an important role in helping build an eco-friendly economy as the world strives to make the recovery from COVID-19 a sustainable and inclusive one. Not only does 3D printing consume less material than traditional manufacturing, but previously recycled goods can be returned to the production cycle.
With significant technological advances in the last few years, 3D printing offers an adaptable and highly customizable alternative to conventional manufacturing techniques. A plethora of geometric shapes and intricate mechanisms can be produced, with complex forms printed in whole or in parts that can be assembled easily by the customer. In addition, since 3D printing was initially developed for prototyping, designs can be tweaked and adjusted much later in the production process.
Plast’if takes this philosophy one step further, by combining 3D printing with a zero waste approach. By printing useful items from plastic waste it provides an eco-friendly alternative to traditional production methods. The all-in-one machine brings together the entire production cycle to help mitigate supply chain impacts on the environment – from consumers to sorting centers and processing plants, to plastics and packaging manufacturers.
As the world emerges from confinement and redefines the new norms post-COVID, innovative solutions must emerge. This means not going back to business as usual – because the new normal must be a circular one.
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Image by Noël Bertrand