The Perpetual Plastic Project seeks to keep plastic out of landfills forever

One of the more vexing problems in waste disposal is the proliferation of plastic. Plastic, unless it is specially treated to be biodegradable, tends to last an awfully long time, whether it is disposed of in landfills or waterways. Naturally, the material is a prime target for the development of recycling technology.

WESA, the Pittsburgh public radio station, reports on a new plastic recycling machine that can process and recycle plastic over and over again, in theory forever. A Dutch industrial designer named Bart Bleijerveld has created a machine that shreds up plastic, melts it down, and then creates wire out of the material that can be fed into a 3D printer to create new products.

The “Perpetual Plastic Project” seeks to keep plastic out of landfills and waterways permanently by making it forever recyclable. Plastic can be fed into the machine and turned into feedstock for 3D printers. The printers create products, from children’s toys to spare parts, which are then used, discarded, and then recycled again to make new products.

Bleijerveld has a small, portable model that can be used in the home. However, he also has an industrial sized version that is used to process everything from old car dashboards to refrigerators to recycle and create new products.

If the idea catches on, plastic can be transformed from an annoying waste to valuable material that can be collected and reused endlessly. Two emerging technologies, recycling and 3D printing, combine to save the planet from more garbage, while making a profit.