I was born in 1986 and grew up in one of the biggest economic booms humanity has known. This growth has empowered us to live longer, work less and live an overall more meaningful life. As a society however, it’s clear 
we’ve finally begun to realise the sharp limits of this system. Global warming and the plastic pollution epidemic are threatening to extinguish life as we know it on this planet in a relatively brief period of time.

If we look at plastic waste specifically, we are seeing an incredible rise in its use and production. In the last 50 years, it has gone from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 311 million tonnes in 2014 and is expected to double again over the next 20 years. And less than 10% is being recycled.


annual plastic production - past and future

Plastic has been incredibly useful and transformational in preserving food and giving billions of people access to products that generations before could never have dreamed of. However, plastic use is now running wild and the way they are used and recycled today now no longer fits with the world we are dreaming of tomorrow.

The way plastic is used and recycled today, no longer fits with the world we are dreaming of for tomorrow

Looking beyond traditional recycling

Traditional recycling is an amazing first step. You take a plastic bottle, for instance, shred it, separate the different types of plastic, clean it and it’s ready for re-use. However, it has its limitation and we need to move beyond it. Every time we shred and melt plastic, the quality degrades. Reflow combats this by a rigorous selection and unique recycling process, but even our controls are limited. In order to create real change, we need to have a systemic approach and work together to develop revolutionary new materials built on fully circular and bio alternatives that match or even exceed the quality of fossil fuel virgin plastic.

In March 2019, we’ve been granted a European Subsidy to try something completely different. The project is focused on producing two types of sustainable filament for the 3D printing industry to create a fully circular system. We will be transforming plastics which are either being sent to landfill or incinerated, into new plastic through a process called PET monomer recycling, and developing the first filament from PEF, a bio-based plastic.

Two approaches

In PET monomer recycling the plastic does not get shredded or re-melted like in the traditional methods. Instead, it is broken down into the base molecules, which allows the recycling of the most polluting plastic streams (mixed plastics for instance) that are unrecyclable in current infrastructure. Through this we can create an endless recycling loop turning difficult to recycle products back into pristine quality filament.

PEF, on the other hand, is a bio-based and recyclable plastic. This means that it is derived from renewable biomass sources instead of fossil-fuel and has potential for significant reductions in greenhouse gas. It may be a valuable alternative to PET, with improved barrier, thermal and mechanical properties, and has the potential to become the material of choice in packaging.

Both the development of PEF and PET monomer recycling are important steps towards a more circular and sustainable economy, tackling the issue either at the input source or making sure that we can properly sort, recycle and re-use the already large quantity of plastics already out there.

By combining leading players in plastic manufacturing with our sustainable approach to 3D printing we can make the future of 3D printing truly sustainable

Collaboration is key

The project – coined “DURAPRINT” – will be done with together with Indorama, the world’s largest PET producer, 3D Makers Zone, a leading player and innovator in the 3D printing market and Corbion, a world leader in the production of bio-based materials. By combining leading players in plastic manufacturing with our sustainable approach to 3D printing we can make the future of 3D printing truly sustainable and pave the way for these technologies to be implemented by a wide variety of industries.

This programme is supported by the European Union, KansenvoorWest subsidy.


Founder & CEO
Papa Reflow. Loving father of two, Serial RomCommer and climber