Our plastic waste could be transformed into original pieces of urban furniture, thanks to 3D printing.
This is the idea behind Print Your City, a project lead by The New Raw, a design studio in Rotterdam whose mission is to create circular economy products. Their XXX public bench is the first product of this kind, and was created for the city of Amsterdam. This prototype is designed to be made out of 50 kg of plastic waste pellets, equivalent to the amount of waste generated by two people over a year in Amsterdam.
“Plastic packaging has a major design failure: it is designed to last forever, but it is used for only a few seconds and then instantly thrown away. That is because it follows a linear process from production, to use, to disposal. We want to turn this linear process into a closed loop so we can create new products from waste”, said Panos Sakkas, co-founder of The New Raw. 3D printing technology is well-suited to the principles of the circular economy, since the plastic waste can be transformed locally with a short recycling path and a zero-waste production process. The XXX bench can also be 100% recycled up to 7 times.
Using 3D printing also allows citizens to participate in shaping their environment by engaging them in the design of their urban furniture. As such, they can help create customized, limited edition pieces that fit the needs of the inhabitants and their neighbourhood. “That’s the real advantage over mass-produced urban furniture, particularly since manufacturing costs are similar for both types.” Even the design of the XXX bench, which can hold up to 4 people, is fun and encourages cooperation between users. Its curvy surface means people have to work together to find their balance while sitting on the bench.
The XXX bench prototype, tested for a few weeks from June to September in Amsterdam, was a huge hit with the general public. “People loved sitting on it, even in the rain. The city of Amsterdam is interested in testing other benches, and we’re currently in discussions with them about potential orders for larger scale projects.” The Print Your City team is also hoping to help raise the awareness of the value of plastic waste in cities, by developing other types of urban furniture, such as playground equipment, bus shelters or garbage cans.