Closed-Loop Mechanical Recycling of PLA Filament in UC Berkeley 3D Printing Labs

Closed-Loop Mechanical Recycling of PLA Filament in UC Berkeley 3D Printing Labs

Project Leads: Lauren Irie, Scott Silva

Sponsor: Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC)

TGIF Grant: $2,183.01

Project Theme: Waste Diversion and Reduction

2018 Application Submission

Project Description: 3D Printing has furthered innovation at UC Berkeley by providing access to new research methods and tools, such the creation of mechanical components from plastic materials. However, considering the benefits of this technology, the large amount of plastic waste generated from use makes this socially-responsible and equitable technology less-so and creates a problem for the future of the technology’s sustainability and feasibility. Thus, the Zero Waste Research Center proposes a closed-loop circular economy that recycles failed prints and other PLA waste into 3D printing filament, resulting in cost and resource savings while also diverting PLA waste from the landfill. This will be done through a collection and mechanical recycling system using already implemented infrastructure to ensure 3D printing is sustainable and accessible for all students and community members.


  • To establish a closed-loop recycling system for the University of California, Berkeley to efficiently reuse plastic based products for educational resources on campus, in efforts of working toward the UC’s goal of Zero Waste by 2020;
  • To expand the interdisciplinary efforts of sustainability and technology, and create innovative ways to handle waste using modern engineering mechanics;
  • To, in an economically-sound manner, provide UC Berkeley with quality filament created out of recycled plastic material.