Loughborough University researchers have managed to turn polymeric refuse collected on the African continent into low-cost agricultural tools for local farmers. Through the ‘Circular Plastics Project,’ the team has recycled discarded bottles into a processable filament, before 3D-printing it into six circular farming implements. These range from a fruit picker to a fish farming system and can help those in developing countries to not only boost their economies, but reduce their local build-up of plastic waste.
The Loughborough team’s 3D printed ‘fruit grabber.’ / Image: Loughborough University.
The Loughborough team’s Circular Plastics Project is closely related to two larger initiatives: the Perpetual Plastic for Food to Go project (PPFTG), and the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge (SSPP). Backed by the UK government’s UK Research and Innovation agency, the SSPP has been set up to help identify new ways of reducing the amount of pollution caused by plastic packaging.
In keeping with the PPFTG program’s aims, the Loughborough team has now received a further £150,000 in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Using this grant, researchers have worked with colleagues at Aston University and De Montfort University, in an attempt to turn plastics into goods for African businesses as part of the Circular Plastics Project.