London Borough of Hackney has high hopes for 3D printing technology in circular economy push

The London Borough of Hackney recently awarded £600,000 in grants via its Hackney Central Impact and Ideas Grant Fund, supporting local businesses pushing the circular economy.

The program involved a total of 23 green enterprises, including Batch.Works, an East London design and manufacturing studio using 3D printing to upcycle plastic waste into useful products. Riding off the back of the initiative, the Hackney Council is now actively encouraging other local businesses to partake in discussions regarding the circular economy, all in a bid to cut waste, reuse materials, and slash emissions.

Guy Nicholson, Deputy Mayor for Delivery, Inclusive Economy, and Regeneration, said, “It is all too easy to jettison some of our ambitions to reduce emissions, support the creation of a circular economy and play our collective part in transforming Hackney’s local economy and placing it at the forefront of the net zero carbon economy of tomorrow. Despite the challenges we face, the Council is determined to support the borough’s business owners to create the economy of tomorrow.”

Hackney Council’s upcoming discussions will focus on the benefits that circular economies can bring with them, both to businesses and the environment.

Guy Nicholson at Batch.Works during Circular Economy week 2022. Photo via Hackney Council.
Guy Nicholson at Batch.Works during Circular Economy week 2022. Photo via Hackney Council.

What is the circular economy?

A circular economy is simply one that keeps materials in use for as long as possible. Turning away from today’s cycle of ‘manufacture, use, throw away’, a circular economy looks to re-use products long after their supposed lifecycle has reached its end. The concept encourages finding new ways of recycling and upcycling materials back into the system, deriving value from waste.

As well as the obvious environmental benefits, circular economy initiatives can also save significant costs for businesses in the way of new material consumption. They can also come in the form of new revenue streams via repair and rental services, all while strengthening relationships with eco-conscious consumers.

The 3D printing sector is no stranger to circular economy projects, which mesh well with the technology’s material-efficient nature and upcycling capabilities. Just last month, researchers from the United Arab Emirates University explored the development of recycled composite materials using leftover 3D printed PLA and carbon fiber waste.

Elsewhere, researchers at Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) developed a 3D printer that’s capable of producing more resilient parts from recycled ABS. By mounting two piezoelectric transducers to an ordinary gantry FFF 3D printer, the engineers created a means of reversing some of the reduction in strength often exhibited by recycled ABS.

The Batch.works products designed in collaboration with UAU and Bold Design. Image via Batch.works.
3D printed Batch.Works products designed in collaboration with UAU and Bold Design. Photo via Batch.Works.

Supporting sustainability in Hackney

Building on schemes such as Batch.Works’ 3D printing project, the Hackney Council is now looking to kickstart discussions by asking local businesses to complete a survey regarding the circular economy. This is intended to help the organization determine exactly how businesses can become a part of the circular economy without having to make major changes to their business models. The data will also be used to design a future business engagement program for reaching net zero in the borough, which Hackney pledged to achieve by 2040.

Hackney Council will be running workshops with the Hackney Central Impact and Ideas Grant Fund circular economy businesses through to the end of this month. The workshops will take a deep dive into the topic and begin to define a roadmap for the borough’s circular economy journey. If successful, the Council will also be rolling out workshop sessions for a wider group of Hackney businesses by the end of the year.

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Featured image shows 3D printed Batch.Works products designed in collaboration with UAU and Bold Design. Photo via Batch.Works.



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