In one of the most pioneering developments in Saskatoon, a couple of students in high school have come up with an innovative non-profit. This entity is aiming at converting plastic waste into something more productive and certainly useful for the printing industry, namely 3D printing material. Kai Chen and Sophia Lacroix, two students of Grade 11 at the noted Bishop James Mahoney High School are making use of a machine built in Russia for transforming plastic bottles into filament that can be used by 3D printers.

They have collectively established SK Eco Solutions for ensuring availability of the material at zero costs to educational institutions and schools alike. The two students were fed up with quarantining in the previous spring and were increasingly brainstorming about various ideas and things that they could start by themselves. They finally discovered Project PET (polyethylene terephthalate or plastic used for bottles) and commenced their non-profit endeavor likewise.

Lacroix has already stated that the biggest obstacle was discovering a suitable machine. They are currently using an extruder that has been manufactured by Russian firm NovaTech. They have received grants from EcoFriendlySask and also the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation. These funds were used for buying the manufacturer’s PETBOT machine. They are currently just the second entity in all of Canada to possess this form of technology as per NovaTech. The other one in the country lies in Vancouver.

The plastic bottles are ribbonized as per Lacroix and then extruded while the filaments garnered are those that are fed directly into machines for 3D printing. This has been part of a new technological wave that several schools and other arts programs are making use of, according to her statement. The bottles offer ribbons which are made into filaments and put on the spool. This directly feeds them into 3D printers likewise. The two children are hopeful of donating the filament to several organizations and schools which make use of 3D printers for educational purposes.

Lacroix has stated that it was a shocking experience to witness the machine for the first time although usage crossed her expectations. Chen has reported that it took some time to start off the process. He talked of trial and error prior to garnering filament that was usable. However, upon smoothening out the process, it was certainly a transformational experience, watching plastic bottles become things used so easily according to Chen. Both Lacroix and Chen are presently receiving plastic bottles from members of their communities. They are hopeful of receiving more bottles from various groups and community associations with the advent of upcoming Spring cleanup drives. Chen has stated that they are hopeful of getting at least 50% of overall filament directly come from bottles which are littered, in the near future.

Lacroix states that people may not always be aware of just how many littered bottles are out there on the streets. She talked of how overwhelming it was while witnessing never-ending bags of plastic bottles which are not often perceived as litter as well. However, she added that once people start searching for them, they will find many more than what was originally anticipated. Chen has added that simply driving around the region will unearth sights of plastic covering the whole city. He adds that it is vital to safeguard natural parks and the environment. Lacroix has also stated that people do wish to initiate big-ticket environmental ventures but they are things that they can always do more easily in their daily lives.

The students are hopeful of people drawing more inspiration from their pioneering work in the community. They are hopeful of sparking a desire for change within others in the region, especially students, for using new technologies and innovating to lower plastic waste levels or carbon footprints. Lacroix and Chen will leave Saskatoon in the future for their post-secondary education. Yet, they remain positive about the green group of their school keeping this project alive successfully.

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