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From Waste to Wealth: Advancing Circular Economy in Materials for a Greener Future with Additive Manufacturing

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Conference Abstract: The prevailing linear economy model, characterized by the production, single-use, and disposal of materials, has led to significant environmental challenges like climate change and pollution crisis. This crisis necessitates a paradigm shift towards a circular economy approach that means turning waste to value wherever possible. This shift involves reprocessing, repurposing, and remanufacturing waste materials, helping a greener environment and unlocking circular economy potential in the supply chain.
Additive manufacturing (AM), a game changer in manufacturing, plays a key role in this shift by improving resource efficiency during production or saving emissions by limiting the length of the supply chain. A vital link between the principles of circular economy and additive manufacturing reduces production costs, minimizes waste, and conserves finite raw material resources. For example, in sectors like the building industry, a major contributor to CO2 emissions (about 40%), exploring sustainable solutions like 3D printed construction is essential. However, there is a lack of custom-made, printable low-carbon materials tailored to housing needs to address affordability and sustainability concerns.
The Eco-Friendly Center of Circular Advanced Materials & Additive Manufacturing (E-CAM) at Ontario Tech University, in collaboration with Nidus3D, Canada’s leader in 3D construction Printing, is dedicated to researching sustainable and circular materials and methodologies through bioaugmentation, reprocessing, repurposing, and reusing of recycled waste materials, aiming to create a greener environment and circular economy. The goal is to design materials and products for reuse, repair, or recycling instead of being sent to landfill or incinerated, with a primary objective of developing end-to-end solutions for closed-loop material use. This interdisciplinary approach holds the potential to create a more environmentally friendly and socially responsible built environment, with research outcomes contributing to a roadmap for sustainable materials and the reduction of CO2 emissions, while ensuring manufacturing respects our planet.