How Thessaloniki’s Residents Turn Their Plastic Waste Into Street Furniture

Residents of Thessaloniki, Greece can now upcycle their plastic waste into 3D printed street furniture for the neighborhood.

Recycled plastic is being increasingly used by designers for interior and product design. So it comes as no surprise that recycled plastic can now be turned into 3D printed furniture. Print Your City attempts to redesign public space with the help of citizens, by introducing 3D printed furniture that is both visually cohesive, but also useful to the residents of Thessaloniki. It is a concept that blossomed from The New Raw, a research and design studio founded by Panos Sakkas and Fonteini Steak. Print Your City was a concept first launched and tested in Amsterdam with the XXX bench prototype, which was a success.

The XXX bench

They took their project further out, to Thessaloniki, as part of the Zero Waste Future program — a program funded by Coca-Cola across Greece — that seeks to engage residents on a grandeur scale. And the Zero Waste Lab in Thessaloniki is the hub where all this happens.

The newly 3D printed furniture is essentially constituted from PP and PE plastics, which are found in food packaging. After the recycled plastic is collected, it is then sorted, washed and shredded prior to being melted. Other pigments are then added to the mix in order to create a suitable and printable material.

The residents themselves get to choose what the recycled plastic will turn into. Residents can customize the product by using Print Your City’s website, including the colour, functionality, and public space it should occupy. The functions that are offered to them are vast, and include: a planter, a bike rack, a feeding bowl for dogs and a bookcase, among others. Once residents are done with their design choices, the website tells them how much recycled plastic will be needed, which incentivizes them to recycle more, as well as encourage others around them to do the same to attain these goals. Earlier this year, Hanth Park, in central Thessaloniki, became the first public space to incorporate the 3D furniture into its area.

This initiative has already seen an outstanding 800 kilos of plastic waste recycled, proving to be a success among the residents of Thessaloniki. The initiative gives creative control to the public, allowing them to be active participants in the construction of a more sustainable society.