This article explores the concept of Ecobricks and the role such reusable building blocks can play as part of the solution to recycle 3D printing waste. 

As a 3D printer filament brand, Filamentive frequently receives emails, calls and messages from 3D printing users wanting to recycle their 3D printing waste. As explained in this blog post, logistic and economic challenges prevent such a service being viable. However, as a brand focussed on sustainable 3D printing, Filamentive is constantly exploring new ideas and solutions to the problem of 3D printing waste.

What is an Ecobrick?

As per the official website, an ecobrick is a PET bottle packed with used plastic; Ecobricks can be put to short term use in modular units, lego-furniture and open spaces. The true power of ecobricks comes from the bottom-up community approach – an individual or business can find a local partner to exchange ecobricks with, thus designing out waste and harnessing a Circular Economy. 

How do Ecobricks tackle the Plastic Problem?

Fundamentally, ecobricks repurpose single-use plastic bottles as reusable building blocks full of collected plastic waste that would otherwise go to landfill. Ecobricks also enable plastic sequestration – keeping plastic that has already been produced as plastic is an effective way to keep its carbon from getting loose, thus minimising the impact of this on the planet and its ecosystems. 

A Solution to 3D Printing Waste?

As concluded by research institute, HSSMI, there is a lack of an established end of life (EoL) processing system for 3D printed polymer parts.

Whilst fundamentally additive, the ever-increasing adoption and ease of 3D printing will still breed masses of unwanted prints FastCompany aptly used the terms crapjects to describe how “on-demand production and endless customisation could lead to dramatic increases in throwaway consumer products.”

In addition to single-use 3D printed objects, the process of 3D printing itself can cause additional waste – be it test prints, unwanted prototypes, support structures or print failures. Naturally this varies across the 3D printer user bases but the demand for recycling 3D printing waste is ever-increasing.

In theory, 3D printing users can sequester and recycle their own 3D-printed plastic waste by making their own Ecobricks. Once a user has enough Ecobricks, there are five main techniques for building with them.

What are the Pros and Cons?

Advantages of Ecobricks as a solution to recycle 3D printing waste:

  • A tangible solution to divert single-use plastic waste from landfill
  • Zero financial cost
  • Reusable
  • More than 5000 hubs worldwide which increases access to recycling

Disadvantages of Ecobricks as a solution to recycle 3D printing waste:

  • Time-consuming 
  • Can only accept waste the size of the bottle mouth – thus necessitating the breaking down plastic waste to fit this (e.g. shredding) or rendering some waste non-recyclable
  • Made from plastic so still poses a waste management challenge, post-use


Whilst certainly not the perfect solution, Ecobricks are a proven solution to sequester and repurpose plastic waste, with an established network of hubs which are actively producing, exchanging and / or accepting Ecobricks from environmentally-conscious individuals and businesses. 

Provided the user is willing to invest the time to produce an Ecobrick and is relatively local to a hub location, there is clearly scope for this practice to be adopted by 3D printing users who are looking for a proven recycling solution for 3D printing waste.

The hope is that increased awareness of Ecobricks as a sustainable solution catalyses real action when it comes to plastic waste management and recycling efforts.