Turning Trash Into Treasure
Plastic waste and how we manage it has gained attention in recent years and provided the impetus for Edric Ong, Lim Yong Zuan and Sophia Tan to start PlasticEVO, an initiative that advocates plastic recycling. Having worked on 3D printing projects together when they were studying at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, the trio recognised the wastage caused by used plastics. Spurred by a common desire to give back to society, Edric, Yong Zuan and Sophia — now students at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Institute of Technology and Nanyang Technological University respectively — decided to tap on their expertise to create a solution to reduce plastic waste.
With support from South West ECo Fund Plus, the young founders researched and developed procedures to make small functional items out of recycled plastics using 3D printing. Although it takes no more than two days to create a product, it took the lean team months of experimenting before it developed the first prototype in November 2020.
Edric shared, “Developing the prototype was a laborious process as we had to constantly adjust the settings to achieve the optimal temperature to melt the plastic. Collecting plastic materials is a time-consuming process as we have to also sort and clean the discarded plastic items to prevent any contamination during extrusion(extraction?).” One of the significant milestones of the project is the extrusion of polypropylene — the type of plastic used in takeaway containers. Another is the launch of the group’s website and Instagram page in late September 2020.
To engage the community on their efforts, the team is making plans to share about PlasticEVO with institutes of higher learning (IHLs) through their environmental interest groups. Joining the NUS Zero Waste Testbed Initiative also gave them the opportunity to pilot their ideas in the university. Other upcoming collection drives in ILHs will give students hands-on experience in shredding the collected plastic to prepare it for the next step of product creation.
“With the South West ECo Fund Plus and the opportunities provided by the South West Community Development Council, we hope to venture into secondary schools to spread environmental awareness and introduce green habits,” Edric said.
By providing an alternative platform for plastic recycling in Singapore, PlasticEVO aims to pique the public’s interest in plastic upcycling and encourage more people to look out for plastic materials that can be recycled.
How does PlasticEVO recycle plastic?
Step 1: gather plastic waste
Step 2: shred the plastic waste
Step 3: melt and cool the plastic shreds so they become printable filaments
Step 4: feed the plastic filaments into the 3D printing machines to make usable everyday items
Find out more about PlasticEVO: Bridge 2021 #07 Highres Spread (cdc.gov.sg)