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The ecological footprint of Maker Faire Rome 2023: 3 innovative objects made of recycled materials

The importance of recycling, visionary applications and some numbers on European recycling

We have selected three objects that represent recycling innovation at Maker Faire Rome 2023: a sustainable cover, a particle detector, and designer pieces. Learn more about their prior lives below

In Europe, we produce more waste than we recycle, according to the European Environment Agency. Being aware of the environmental impact of our daily habits and consumption choices is essential to respond to environmental challenges. In this context, recycling is necessary in order to responsibly manage the planet’s resources.

In the LIFE pavilion of the most recent edition of Maker Faire Rome, there were many interesting projects presented by makers who, like every year, managed to give new life to all kinds of materials that otherwise would have become waste, transforming them into incredible and surprising products that are suitable for new uses. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of recycling, the current situation in Europe and the three most innovative recycled objects presented this year at Maker Faire Rome 2023.

The importance of recycling and its advantages

As we become more and more environmentally aware, recycling is becoming crucial to making our planet more sustainable by making smarter use of all kinds of resources. Recycling has many advantages: not only does it limit the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, but it also helps reduce the extraction of raw materials, thus preserving ecosystems and mitigating the negative impacts associated with this practice. Through recycling, materials can be transformed into new products, reducing the need to use virgin resources as well as the energy required to produce them from scratch. This virtuous cycle promotes resource efficiency and reduces the overall environmental impact, contributing to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the release of pollutants associated with improper waste disposal. Adopting recycling habits is not just an individual act, but a collective response to global challenges. Only by fostering a culture of sustainability and environmental responsibility can we overcome them.

Recent numbers on the waste situation in Europe

Despite efforts to promote the circular economy, Europe is still facing significant challenges in waste production and management. According to data from the European Environment Agency, the recycling rate of municipal waste in the EU is increasing and has reached 49% even though around 24% of it still ends up in landfills. The overall production of waste in Europe increased by 1% between 2010 and 2020, with an average of 4.8 tons of waste produced by each European every year, 39% of which is recycled. Recycling rates vary widely among member countries, with eight countries exceeding 50%, while eight others recycle less than 20% of their municipal waste. Despite the overall percentage decline in waste sent to landfill from 23% to 16% between 2010 and 2020 in the EU-27, the total amount of waste generated continues to grow. The EU 2020 Action Plan aims to halve the total amount of not recycled municipal waste by 2030, with the goal that all member states will recycle at least 60 percent of their municipal waste by that date. However, to achieve this goal, municipal waste generation must be significantly reduced. EU directives, such as the Waste Framework Directive, the WEEE Directive and the Packaging Directive, outline specific targets for recycling and responsible management of various types of waste. In addition, under the European Green Deal, additional policies, such as the ban on single-use plastics, are being implemented to substantially reduce the environmental impact of waste

Three objects designed from recycled materials at Maker Faire Rome 2023

 Maker Faire Rome has always encouraged the use of creative genius, innovation and technology to solve global problems. As we have seen, the European data could certainly improve, but one of the ways to make this happen is to start spreading a real culture of recycling, disrupting the habits of a consumerist system. An example of this was provided by some makers who presented products that were cleverly recycled and repurposed for new innovative uses at Maker Faire Rome. Here are the three recycled objects we selected.

 

  1. From a fountain to particles

At the ICTP Scientific Fab Lab in Trieste, a laboratory at the prestigious research center, Marco Baruzzo and Carlo Fonda have created a particle detector from an unexpected object: a cold water fountain. Through recycling, they built a Wilson elementary particle detector, which makes electrons, protons, alpha particles and muons observable. A “Wilson cloud chamber” was made from the old drinking fountain, a Peltier cell, an Arduino nano and a few other low-cost parts. The project is open source, so everyone can benefit and build their own.

 

  1. iGreen Cover: a cover you can plant

 The iGreen Cover is the first iPhone cover that is fully environmentally sustainable and biodegradable and can be planted after use. The cover is made of a compostable cornstarch-based material, available in three different variants: basil green, light blue and daisy. Inside the cover is a water-soluble protector and a casing with seeds that bloom when planted. Andrea Mullineris, the project’s founder, is an eco-sustainability enthusiast who has always cherished the idea of implementing a business project to benefit and protect the environment. The idea of iGreen was born in 2008, thanks to an initial communication project for the City of Turin, which led to the provision of portable ashtrays to raise awareness of the environmental impact that cigarette butts have on the general public.

 

  1. ReMade Community: from waste to design

ReMade is a micro-production laboratory, where an alternative model that integrates processes of digital fabrication, recycling and co-design is experimented with. It aspires to reduce the environmental impact of urban waste management by investigating new relationships between ideation, consumption and production. It conducts creative workshops to spread digital culture and ecological thinking particularly in areas that are very socially marginalized. The goal is to spread and experiment with processes of Design, Recycling and Manufacturing 4.0 to develop circular economy models in Naples. Through recycled plastic, the ReMade community gives life to design objects strongly linked to Neapolitan identity and culture. To this end, inspiration comes directly from the shape of the land. One example is the vase inspired by the caves of Naples: the texture that ripples its surface brings back the sense of depth and repetition that one feels when visiting the city’s underground places such as the Fontanelle cemetery, the Cumaean sibyl or the cave of Seiano.

 

 

Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition has been committed since its very first editions to make innovation accessible and usable to all, with the aim of not leaving anyone behind. Its blog is always updated and full of opportunities and inspiration for makers, makers, startups, SMEs and all the curious ones who wish to enrich their knowledge and expand their business, in Italy and abroad.

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