Our Commitment to SustainabilityThe survival of Earth itself and life as we know it is currently under threat.
Humanity is facing the growing impact of plastic waste polluting our land and marine environments, the effect of increasingly severe weather events as well as the consequences of global warming.
The natural environment cannot be replaced or replicated, so it’s imperative that a strong sustainability agenda becomes embedded in our societal and economic structures.
Sustainability requires the use of resources at a rate which allows for continued future use. At Filamentive, we aspire to curate a Circular Economy business model – designing out pollution and keeping materials in use by reusing and recycling. In addition to resource efficiency, we are also taking action to minimise the overall impact of our business operations.
Sustainable 3D Printing
Whilst at its core 3D printing is fundamentally less wasteful than traditional, subtractive manufacturing methods, the use of plastic as a feedstock has the potential to exacerbate the global plastic epidemic unless sustainable solutions can be implemented.
“Material sustainability is an issue that can no longer be ignored due to wide adoption of 3D printing”
Our aim is to provide a sustainable source of raw materials to 3D printing users. Where possible, recycled materials will be used to produce our 3D printer filament, in accordance with ISO 14021:2016.
A careful selection criteria is in place in order to guarantee, single-source waste streams. As of March 2021 we are mainly working with post-industrial waste streams – material diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process.
The positives outcomes of this production model include:
- Minimising the amount of plastic being sent to the diminishing landfill sites
- Avoiding consumption of the Earth’s finite oil stocks
- Lowering energy demand compared to producing new, virgin polymers
We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our products by increasing recyclability of packaging / materials.
Sustainability at Filamentive goes beyond using recycled materials in the first instance; instead, the entire product lifecycle is evaluated – enabling reuse / recycling of filament spools in-line with Circular Economy principles. Filamentive were the first UK filament brands to do this in 2018 with cardboard spools for 750g-1 kg products, and thankfully we have overcome engineering challenges to be the first UK brand to switch to sustainable cardboard reels for >2 kg 3D printing filament products also.
Furthermore, all cardboard product boxes are made from 100% recycled cardboard, and can then be 100% recycled also via council / industrial recycling bins (in the UK).
Regrettably, not all current packaging materials are (widely) recyclable, but we are committed to eventually replace non-recyclable components with recycled, recyclable, or bioplastic alternatives to further reduce environmental impact.
Carbon offset with Ecologi
Filamentive is now investing in environmentally-sustainable projects globally – including reforestation and renewable energy production, primarily in the developing world where the most impact can be made.
As a result, carbon emissions arising from production, transport and employee activity are now offset, harnessing a Climate Positive Workforce.
The Filamentive Ecologi Profile Page visualises the commitment to global environmental sustainability, displaying the number of trees in a virtual forest, as well as the total quantity of carbon reduction (tonnes).
The Ecologi platform provides full transparency, with specific information on projects funded and also CO2e calculation. More information on Ecologi can be found here.
3D Printing Waste Solutions
Unlike other plastic products, there is currently no established End-Of-Life (EoL) processing system for 3D-printed waste. As a result, the vast majority of unwanted prints ultimately end up discarded landfill, or accumulated in-situ.
Filamentive research suggests that approximately 10% of 3D prints become waste. As per a 2021 UK 3D Printing Filament Market report, there are 232,000 3D printers installed in the UK, and the average 3D printer (operator) uses 12 kg of filament annually – from this, the estimated waste plastic generated by UK 3D printing users in 2021 can be inferred as 278,400 kg.
Despite marketing claims, PLA is only biodegradable under industrial / anaerobic composting conditions. No evidence of biodegradability in soil, home compost or landfill exists. At the micro-scale, DIY recycling solutions exist – whilst this may be financially viable for businesses, it does remain expensive, labour-intensive and time-consuming for most.
A fully circular, cradle-to-cradle model for recycling 3D printing waste is an aspiration, but currently there are many challenges inhibiting the process.
However, we are committed to exploring efficient landfill diversion strategies, including:
- Remanufacturing – producing 100% recycled, cradle-to-cradle filament
- Pelletising – resale in secondary plastic markets
- Biological treatment – breaking down bioplastics into organic material
- Chemical recycling – Depolymerisation to break down into useful monomers