"Zero Waste" Recycling Solutions

Duquesne University Biomedical Engineering (BME) students developed a process that turns recycled plastic cups and 3-D prints into filament that can be used to print splints, braces and other medical devices.

While current plastic recycling processes require using some new plastic, Duquesne's process only uses recyclable plastic. The University's new "zero waste" plastic recycling program could eliminate the need to use new plastic altogether for recycling purposes.

graphic of recycling process

And fitting with Duquesne University's community-engaged mission, novel uses for that recycled plastic will help people from the Pittsburgh to Africa, with BME students creating arm casts for patients in Pittsburgh and filters to improve water quality and health outcomes for people in Tanzania.

More than 7,000 miles away, Duquesne students in the University's Pure Thirst program are introducing this new technology to a community in Tanzania.Through Pure Thirst, students work with Spiritans, Duquesne faculty and community leaders in the Olkokola community in northern Tanzania to explore ways to increase water access and improve water quality.

One of the issues in the community is that current water supplies have high levels of fluoride which reduce calcium, leading to health issues ranging from debilitating bone problems, such as misshapen legs, to dental issues.

"Because the water comes downstream from a mountain, it tends to have more minerals in it which leads to the high fluoride levels," says Duquesne BME senior Sophia Bakar, a member of the Pure Thirst team. "Our goal was to create a low-cost and easy way to implement a process that reduces fluoride in the water."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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