Reducing waste has been important to Protopasta from the start. When kickstarting the brand in 2014, we started by proposing 250g spool-less coils to minimize packaging. Difficult to use, the community requested more material and on a spool. We quickly added plastic spools to our rewards only to later find out this industry standard was a prolific industry problem. In response, we reduced package waste by switching to cardboard spools as our standard in 2015 (more on that topic in my rant here).
Reducing spool waste addresses one waste stream, but this article's focus is not about packaging. Instead, we'll focus on plastic waste in filament production. What happens to material that doesn't become perfect pasta? Well, some non-conforming material is still good for printing and becomes "Imperfect Pasta", but for all the waste plastic that isn't printable, we started an exploration with Midori Hirose in 2017. Embracing the Precious Plastic movement and tools, Midori along with several collaborative groups began to collect and re-form waste filament into new forms.
Most recently Midori and Trash Hackers Collective has worked with pelletized out-of-spec HTPLA filament waste that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill, turning trash into highly-desirable sheet material. From this new, one-of-a-kind raw material, they've prepared unique, one-off laser-cut keepsakes. These keychains made from recycled pasta were gifted as a special "thank you" to our first Endless Pastabilities subscribers, demonstrating one of many potential applications for Protopasta HTPLA.
Plastic waste is a hot topic and another opportunity for improving on the status quo. How would you re-form filament waste and reshape our world? Together, we can be more mindful and create new ways to both reduce waste and turn waste into something new and desirable thus embracing this precious resource and planet.
Want to give the process a try? Grab a baking sheet with a lip, make a densely packed layer of PLA pellets or scrap filament, and put it in the oven at 425-450F until the pellets wet out. When melted, remove from the oven. The pellets will want to stick to your baking sheet so choose a non-stick surface, use cooking spray on the pan surface, and/or lay down some parchment first. Putting in the freezer can also aid in release. Coffee fan? A wonderful medium roast from green beans is possible with a similar technique and temperatures!