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How 3D printer can help you protect environment

IANS  |  New York 

Are you going to dump your old milk jug into the trash can again? Wait, as this milk jug can not only help you save a lot of money but also help preserve the environment.

What you need is a 3D printer and a 'RecycleBot' - that turns waste plastic into 3D printer filament - at home.

By turning plastic jugs into 3D printer filament, one can cover 99 percent cost of buying a new product and help save three percent less energy than what is required in conventional recycling process, a new study shows.

"Energy savings skyrocket to 70-80 percent in small towns where even conventional recycling programmes are not ideal," said Joshua Pearce, associate professor at Michigan Technological University in the US.

"Recycling your own milk jugs uses 90 percent less energy than making virgin plastic from petroleum," he added.

The researchers did a life-cycle analysis on a run-of-the-mill milk jug made from HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic.

After cleaning it and cutting it in pieces, they ran it through an office shredder and a 'RecycleBot'.

The researchers also compared the cost of making your own filament with buying it.

"There's a clear incentive, even if you factor in the cost of buying the RecycleBot," Pearce said.

The study appeared in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

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First Published: Thu, March 06 2014. 16:54 IST