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Excessing packaging and spool waste

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Posted · Excessing packaging and spool waste

I love my Ultimaker printers, but I'm always horrified by how wasteful the filament spools are in terms of packaging material and the super-heavy plastic spools. I throw the spools and the cardboard packaging into the recycling bin, but the more I read about problems with plastic recycling, the more I realize that we need to drastically reduce single-use materials instead of relying on recycling.


Ultimaker, please stop using such heavy plastic spool for your filaments - either make the plastic spools much, much lighter, to reduce the amount of plastic waste, or switch to something more environmentally friendly, like recycled cardboard or some other recycled natural fiber.


I'm strongly considering switching to a different brand of filament (even though I hate how easy it is to use UM filaments) because I can't stand how wasteful the UM filament spools are.

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    Posted · Excessing packaging and spool waste

    Personally, I am not convinced that cutting millions of trees to make cardboard, in order to replace plastic, is an environmentally friendly solution. You can not recycle paper and cardboard endlessly. After 2 or 3 times, the fibers become too short, and the cardboard or paper crumbles apart. As we already see in paper bags for fruits and bread in our shops today. Then new trees have to be cut to make new usable paper. So, each second or third paper bag you use, is made from a freshly cut tree, destroying forests.


    Long ago the whole earth (land) was covered in green forest, including all current deserts, and even Greenland. But over the ages, all that green, carbon and life got burried underground in the form of black coal, brown coal, turf, etc. In the sea, dead life forms decomposed into an oily gel and sunk. Those gels decomposed further into gas and thinner oils due to the heat in the earth. As tectonic plates moved and got buried, some oil and gas got stuck under land now.


    All this buried carbon can no longer take part in life, and thus life is bit by bit extinguishing on the earth's surface, as life-carbon gets buried underwater or underground. Plants and trees die when the CO2 level in the air drops below 0.02%. We are now at 0.03%, barely above this level, and lots of plants are already in bad condition and dying. For optimal growth, plants need at least 0.12% of CO2 in the air, but preferably around 0.3%, thus 10x more than now. Then all plants would grow 6x to 7x faster than now by themself, without us having to do anything. All deserts would become green again automatically. Sea levels would drop, because lots of water would then be contained in the wood and leaves of trees, and in the ground around their roots. And temperature would first drop and then stabilise: we all know that in a forest the temperature is cooler and more stable than in a bare desert like the Sahara. In mountainous areas, trees would grow up to much higher areas than now. There would be lots and lots more food and more habitat for all animal and human life. This is all proven in scientific experiments.


    So, to save life on earth, we should dig up all buried carbon, thus all coal, oil and gas, and burn them, so that this carbon can take part in life again. But we should burn it in a *clean* way, with good particle filters and catalysts, so the only combustion products are life gasses water vapour (H2O) and CO2.


    In formula:

    - For plants: CO2 + H2O + E (sun energy) ---> C-H-O-chains (green, wood, sugars) + O2

    - For animals and humans: C-H-O-chains (food) + O2 ---> CO2 + H2O + E (energy)


    CO2 and H2O are life-gasses, the source of all life on earth. This is what nature makes plants from, with energy from the sun.


    So, we humans live on sun energy, brought to us via plants, since we can not directly convert sunlight into meat bodies and into movement. Plant life, and human and animal life, are each half of the life cycle. Both formulas above are half of the life cycle, both equally necessary. They complement each other.


    Plastic is a very good product: it is made from oil and gas, and is formed into very clean and very usable products. After their usefull life, plastics can be burned cleanly (at least some of them, such as PLA, PE and PP, some burn less clean), and the resulting heat can be used to melt and form new products. If done well, there is no real waste. The "waste" gasses CO2 and H2O are not waste, but plant food. To make all deserts green again, we should produce more plastics, and burn more plastic, oil, coal and gass. More, not less. So, we in the 3D-printing community, are doing not too bad in saving life on earth.


    And of course, to save the earth, we should go driving in muscle cars with big fuel guzzling V8 engines, like in the '60s. Camaros, Corvettes, Firebirds, and Mustangs with 400HP. But now with good filters and catalysts on the exhaust. This is no joke, this is absolutely proven in true science.  :-)


    For some basic understanding, search the old documentaries: "The greening of planet Earth", and: "The greening of planet Earth continues". But there are lots of other valuable documentaries. Just stick to the proven science. What I say above is no secret, it is all very basic biology and biochemistry science, taught in high-school, between 15 and 18 years of age.


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    Posted · Excessing packaging and spool waste

    Plastic is the future ..........but no need for fancy logo and carboard wrapping .....double wrap in plastic, label type of material on spool is fine....then UM......... it helps a little

    .....but the huge problem is with auto makers, boat engines and old diesel motors. And lets not forget airplanes, cruse ships, ferries, trains and the like....and electric cars at $100,000 does not help moving to new technology....

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    • 2 months later...
    Posted · Excessing packaging and spool waste

    @geert_2, most cardboard boxes I see are made from 100% recycled fiber, so your response is quite silly. UM can easily use recycled cardboard for the spools, or at least make the spools a lot lighter, to use less plastic. Plastic is a wonderful and very useful material (I obviously use lots of plastic to make 3D printed parts), but I don't understand why we need to be chucking such huge amounts of it into the trash. The UM plastic spools and associated packaging are a huge waste.


    I already made the switch to a different brand of PLA filament (made in the USA) that comes packaged in a much less wasteful way and prints just as well as the UM Tough PLA (maybe even better), with the added bonus that it's 25% less expensive. I built a simple system to use 3kg spools from this other brand, which reduces waste even more, and drastically reduces the frequency with which my printers run out of filament. Win-win!


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    Posted · Excessing packaging and spool waste

    I find it somehow amusing that we push kilos of plastic through the nozzle to print our parts, but packaging or a spool that is too thick bothers us.


    However, the market has suitable solutions for everyone. There are filaments with cardboard spools or there is loose filament that you can wind yourself onto the material of your choice. Thus, everyone can choose the right one for himself.

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    Posted · Excessing packaging and spool waste

    Yes, I do fully understand the concerns about waste; I am pro recycling too. But the recycling process itself should not cost more energy and resources, and produce more waste, than making new things. Otherwise it would be a lose-lose situation: you would get inferior products at a higher environmental cost.


    A 100% recycled cardboard item had to be made fresh in one of the cycles before, before it can be recycled. That first-make is what costs lots of trees. Further, both fresh and recycled cardboard and paper consume huge amounts of energy and fresh water: the paper/cardboard has to be cut, mixed with water into pulp, heated, stirred, treated chemically, pressed into sheets, and then dried. The water of the pulp is highly polluted afterwards, and thus needs purifying, which also costs energy. I don't know the total balance, but I would not be surprised if the total environmental cost of cardboard is far worse than that of plastic. So, production of paper/cardboard might cost more oil for heating and purifying, than the production of plastic. According to Wikipedia, it takes 200 tons of hot water to produce 1 ton of paper. If the water is recycled 10x before being wasted, it still costs 20 tons of fresh water for 1 ton of paper. And the waste-water pollutes rivers... The advantage of cardboard is that if thrown in a river, it rots away soon because it consists of wood-fibers, contrary to plastic.


    A similar difficult question is which plastic to use? Plant-based plastic such as PLA, or oil-based such as ethylene, propylene, styrene, ABS,...? The plant-based seems more environmentally friendly at first glance. But it requires food-products. So, first, forest has to be cut to make room for crop, and then that crop is used for making plastic instead of for making food for people and animals...


    Another similar question is that of glass versus plastic: glass bottles can be recycled, yes, while plastic ones can't. But it takes at least 100x more energy to produce glass than it takes to make plastic. So, even if the glass bottle can be recycled 5 to 7 times (max), it still costs 15-20x more energy than a plastic one. Also, the empty glass needs to be transported and washed, which also requires lots of energy.


    We need to consider the whole cycle, including the hidden energy- and environmental costs in the factories. Which are often difficult to estimate.


    But there is hope: in the past weeks Stephan from CNC-kitchen (Youtube) has been experimenting with shredding old plastics, and extruding fresh filament from it. He seems to have good results with it. That would be a first step. For home use the cost is way too high, but for research departments and schools having a lot of printers, it might be a solution, and it is very educational too.


    And maybe in the future we can go to a feeder that works directly with pellets, instead of filament. So you would only need one big 50kg-bag of pellets, and then add your own colors and additives. That would be a hybrid between injection moulding and 3D-printing. It will take 5 to 10 years, but I could see things moving in that direction.


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