Archivo de la etiqueta: India

Protoprint: from plasteic waste to 3D printer’s filament

A Social Enterprise that empowers wastepickers in India while providing affordable 3D printing services to students and professionals.

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Protoprint: MIT grad Sidhant Pai’s startup using ragpickers to make green 3D printer

Malavika Murali, ET Bureau Jul 18, 2014, 04.50AM IST
(Protoprint’s RefilBot…)

BANGALORE: Narendra Modi may have never heard of Sidhant Pai, but if the young MIT graduate’s plans remain on track then the 21-year-old may unwittingly become an ally in the Indian prime minister’s push to clean up Indian cities. In the run up to the general election, Modi had made making Indian cities world-class one of his key poll promises. Along with impressive skyscrapers and airports, cleanliness is a common factor of all great cities.

Which is where a startup like Pai’s Protoprint with its innovative solution to transform plastic waste into raw material for 3D printers makes a difference. The Pune-based startup, the first of its kind in India, has tied up with ragpickers who bring in waste they collect from various parts of the city to a site run by Protoprint.

At the site, the plastic materials are segregated and fed into the FlakerBot, a machine built from scratch by Pai to shred the plastic. From there, the shredded plastic moves to the RefilBot, also built by Pai, which converts it into filaments that is used as raw material to print objects in a 3D printer.

“We designed them (the machines) specifically to be low cost,” said Pai, who started up through grants and the fellowship money that he received, apart from his work on projects like building an affordable solar cell phone charger in Nicaragua and pedal powered butter churn in Tanzania during his first two years at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States. “As an environmental engineer I wanted to bring technology to the masses.”

Of the total investment of $110,000 in the startup, non-profit global investment firm Echoing Green put in about $80,000, said Pai. So far, different commercial 3D printers used filaments of various sizes as raw material. Pai is now trying to change this by standardising the sizes and quality of the filaments.

Deepak Raj of Bangalore-based 3D printing design factory Df3d said there is a certain chemical composition that has to be met for a filament to work in a particular 3D printer, stressing on the difficulty in developing a standardised filament. “It’s very interesting how this (standardisation of filament) is being done. It is quite difficult,” said Raj.

Protoprint is working as the first officially certified producer with UK-based charity organisation Techfortrade’s The Ethical Filament Foundation, an initiative that partners with organisations worldwide to aid the manufacturing of ethical 3D printer material from recycled plastic waste.

Globally, there are a few precedents. While Italy-based Ewe Industries has developed a machine that turns any recycled plastic into filament, UK’s Omnidynamics recently raised £64,369 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to develop its filament maker.

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e-waste recycling turns water, soil toxic

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

Extremely high levels of heavy metals found in samples from Loni and Mandoli

Lab testing of soil and water samples from the Loni and Mandoli areas of Delhi reveals high contamination of both with heavy metals and other impurities. Shockingly, even the drinking water at both the locations contained high amount of toxic metals.

The report, “Impact of e-waste Recycling on Water and Soil”, released on Monday by non-government organisation Toxics Link, revealed that toxic elements including mercury, lead, zinc, along with acids and chemicals are released during e-waste recycling and are contaminating soil and water in the surrounding areas.

“Our neighbourhoods are at great risk of being permanently damaged by toxins from e-waste,” noted the study.

At Loni, some water samples reveal mercury level as high as 20 times the prescribed limit, while at Mandoli zinc level in a sample was 174 times higher. “Increased amount of toxic elements are a clear indicator that water at both the places is not fit for drinking. Toxic metals such as lead and zinc slowly damage vital organs and also reduce the IQs and understanding capabilities of children,” said Dr. Prashant Rajankar, programme coordinator, Toxics Link.

The findings also show lead level in soil at Loni to be very high, with one sample as high as 147 times the prescribed limit. The findings at Mandoli were equally shocking with lead level in one of the samples being 102 times higher than the prescribed limit. The study findings also establish release of heavy metals and other contaminants from recycling units at both locations.

Loni and Mandoli are simply two examples from the vast number of such crude recycling units operating in Delhi and across India.

Presently, around 2.7 million tonnes of e-waste is generated every year and reports suggest that almost 90 per cent of this waste is being recycled in the informal sector in and around large cities.

To manage such toxics, “e-waste (management and handling) rules-2011” is currently operational. It puts the onus of e-waste disposal onto the producers of such goods and instructs the State Pollution Control Board to monitor the implementation.

“In spite of the rules, we find piles of e-wastes and a number of recycling units operating in Delhi and at other places. Rather than simply closing them down, the government agencies need to come up with more effective measures,” said Satish Sinha, associate director, Toxics Link.

The report is among the few in India that scientifically corroborate damage to soil and water through toxics from e-waste. Besides providing data on increased levels of zinc, lead and other toxic elements and chemicals, the study also scientifically examines electrical conductivity, hardness and turbidity in the selected samples of Mandoli and Loni.

“There are only few scientific reports like this one. We hope it will trigger more such studies in other parts of the country and eventually the government will come up with better guidelines and push for stricter implementation of e-waste rules,” said Ravi Agarwal, director of Toxics Link.

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About the film

Fixers Film General Synopsis

There are superheroes in our midst, and they’re not wearing capes or costumes. They live in unassuming places, performing miracles with the most humble of tools. They bring ancient machinery rumbling back to life, fabricate new radiators from metal scraps, and repair minuscule circuitry with simple hand tools. They are brilliant hackers, tinkerers, mechanics and repair technicians, transforming our unwanted junk into coveted treasures — genius “fixers” with a preternatural ability to rip apart a piece of hardware and give it a new soul.

Fixers are doing more than repairing things. They are the solution to an environmental problem poisoning our planet. Electronics recyclers illegally import hundreds of millions of tons of e-waste into Asia and Africa every year. Though seemingly harmless, our used gadgets contain deadly chemicals, including mercury, arsenic, lead and brominated flame retardants. Developing countries lack the resources to dispose of these products properly, and scrapworkers mine them for raw materials using crude, toxic techniques.

By repairing and reusing our broken hardware, fixers are the last line of defense against the ever-increasing flood of hazardous electronics waste pouring into third-world countries. We’ll take you into their workshops, where they work wonders with basic hand tools, soldering irons, and a little ingenuity.

We’ve journeyed through the slums of Kibera, the electronics scrapyards of Delhi, and Cairo’s infamous Garbage City, and we’ll be revealing how and why fixers do what they do — their tips and tricks of the trade, life stories and philosophies.

Filming Locations

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Cairo, Egypt

Home to some of the most developed informal industry in Africa, Cairo hosts a bevy of automotive and electronics repair people. The pyramid-building Egyptian ingenuity is famous worldwide, a spirit that lives on today. On the streets of Cairo, brilliant engineers are forced to do things in creative and clever ways without much money. We filmed some of their stories.


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New Delhi, India

Our recent trip to New Delhi, full of enormous electronics scrapyards and innumerable second-hand electronics repair shops, was simply a scouting trip. Though we didn’t take any video footage in Delhi this trip, we took hundreds of photos of repair shops and e-waste workers.


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Nairobi, Kenya

Kenyans are better at hacking and innovating with next to no tools than anyone else on the planet. Nairobi repair folks are phenomenal, even though they have the fewest tools, resources, and education.

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Accra, Ghana

Like Kenya, Ghana has a burgeoning second-hand electronics market, made possible by hordes of self-trained repair people. However, Ghana is also where many used electronics go to die: in the waste dump of Agbogbloshie, workers take apart all kinds of defunct devices, breaking them down into their component parts and burning circuit boards to collect the precious metals inside—a process that releases toxic fumes.



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Delhi Waste Wars


Delhi Waste Wars

An EJOLT Video. Directed by Leah Temper and edited by Siobhan McKeown (e:d.i.t)

A battle is brewing in Delhi, India over access and control to garbage. For decades, informal wastepickers and recyclers have turned garbage into cash. They cost the government and taxpayer nothing, yet they significantly reduce the waste sent to already overflowing landfills, improve recycling rates and “cooling the earth” by reducing carbon emissions. But recent government plans to privatize trash collection have put the livelihoods of the wastepickers under threat. Meanwhile, new plans to build incinerators funded by carbon credits mean the resources the recyclers depend on may soon go up in smoke.

This documentary takes a street-eye view, charting the wastepickers´ struggle for their rights and recognition, and gaining a local perspective on how to create a truly sustainable waste management system in one of the world´s biggest and most densely populated cities.

For more information & Environmental Justice resources visit

For more information on alternatives to incineration:

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