techfortrade, a UK charity that aims to connect developing nations with emerging technology in order to facilitate trade, today announced the launch of the Ethical Filament Foundation (EFF). The EFF will collaborate with organizations around the world to ensure the availability and viability of ethically produced 3D-printing filament, made from recycled plastic waste.
With the growing global market for 3D printer filament, the EFF will set benchmarks for the manufacture of a recycled alternative to the standard virgin plastic. The initiative aims to both provide income stability for waste pickers in developing countries and to reduce the environmental impact of 3D printing by helping to cut levels of plastic waste, an often overlooked by-product of this otherwise revolutionary technology.
The Ethical Filament Foundation is developing a recognized standard and global mark that will be licensed for use by partner organizations producing filament. A draft of these guidelines has been released for comment and review and is available via the Foundation’s website.
This standard will ensure that social, economic and environmental requirements are met in the production of 3D printer filament. It is also hoped that this will contribute towards a general improvement in wider trading relationships with waste pickers by influencing plastic industry standards. The EFF mark will act as a quality guarantee for those companies and individual consumers wishing to purchase recycled filament.
techfortrade founded the EFF in partnership with Dreambox Emergence, which provides 3D-printing units for community-based manufacturing in Guatemala, and Michigan Technological University. The initiative has already attracted a high level of interest and its first licensee, Protoprint, which provides waste-plastic recycling services in India.
“techfortrade believes in the transformational capabilities of 3D-printing technology for developing nations, particularly since our 3D4D Challenge,” said William Hoyle, CEO of techfortrade. “After realizing a gap in the market for 3D-printer filament made from recycled plastic, we immediately recognized the opportunity this presents to the developing world where plastic waste is in abundance. The 3D printing market is growing exponentially and by making the first move into ethical filament, we hope to raise awareness about the importance of this technology and the benefits it can provide to some of the poorest people in the world. Our first step is to garner support from the 3D-printing community.”
“The Ethical Filament Foundation is working not only to provide a sustainable form of income and independence to people in developing nations, but also to create a more environmentally sound range of 3D-printer filament, at a time when the industry is booming,” said Matt Hayto, co-founder of Dreambox Emergence. “The decision to collaborate with techfortrade in this initiative was a no-brainer.”
Speaking of innovations in plastic, last month Italian biotech firm Bio-on announced the development of a bioplastic called PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoate), made from agricultural processing waste materials, which is 100 percent biodegradable in water and soil and can be used as a substrate for electric circuits. When combined with suitable nanofillers, the polymer can act as an electricity conductor, with the potential of replacing plastics in most electronics.