In the Greek city of Thessaloniki, a park features citizen-designed street furniture made from an unlikely source: local plastic trash that’s been remade into 3D-printed furniture.
At the lab, plastic is sorted by type–the purer the material, the easier it is to 3D print–and then washed and shredded. “Then we start ‘cooking’ it in the printer,” says The New Raw cofounder Foteini Setaki. A robotic arm squirts out toothpaste-like strands of the melted plastic, which harden as the furniture takes shape. On a website, anyone can customize their own preferred version of a rounded public bench, choosing the amount of seating to provide, whether they want to include a planter, bike rack, a dog bowl, or a bookcase. Citizens vote on their favorite designs.
The first designs were put in a public square called Hanth Park in the center of the city this month. The project can’t fully solve the problem of what to do with plastic trash–over the duration of the yearlong project, it will recycle around four tons of plastic, or roughly as much as what’s produced by only 14 Greek households. But it can help make the problem more visible than it already is, and could help generate more support for recycling plastic locally–particularly with the tool of 3D printing. Because there’s a finite amount of street furniture that a city needs, the project might also spark questions about the limits of recycling. At some point, the world will also need to cut back on the amount of plastic it produces, not just try to give it a second life.
The lab was sponsored by the Greek arm of Coca-Cola, and the designers now hope to bring it to other cities.
Avots: fast company