Wastepickers belong to a socio-economic community in India that make their living sorting through waste and separating recyclables, which they then sell to local scrap dealers. Despite the fact that these individuals form the base of the recycling pyramid, they are often inadequetely compensated and socially marginalized.
The Protoprint initiative is structured as a social enterprise aimed at empowering these wastepicker communities by providing them with low-cost technology to produce 3D printer filament from the waste plastic they collect. The goal is to market the filament globally as a fair trade, ethically produced alternative to virgin plastic filament with a vertically integrated model to ensure that the vast majority of the profits flow back into the community. We are currently working on a pilot in partnership with SWaCH and the National Chemicals Labs to improve filament quality.