How a Halifax project is turning pot plastics into prosthetics

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How a Halifax project is turning pot plastics into prosthetics


HALIFAX—Jake Boudreau has found one solution to what he would call the NSLC’s “excessive” cannabis packaging conundrum.

“There’s no real plan in place for how much waste is being put through the NSLC,” the founder of 3D-printing operation Kindness3D said Thursday.

Lizzy Brown of Kindness3D holds up an empty cannabis package at their workshop in Halifax on Oct.25, 2018. The group is asking Haligonians to drop off the used caps from cannabis packaging at various spots around the city for them to be shredded and turned into 3D-printed prosthetics.
Lizzy Brown of Kindness3D holds up an empty cannabis package at their workshop in Halifax on Oct.25, 2018. The group is asking Haligonians to drop off the used caps from cannabis packaging at various spots around the city for them to be shredded and turned into 3D-printed prosthetics.  (Fadila Chater/For StarMetro)

Health Canada’s cannabis guidelines dictate that packaging must prevent contamination, be tamper-proof and child-resistant. But these rules make for what some consumers are calling environmentally unfriendly products.

The white plastic containers in which cannabis is packaged are partially not recyclable. The lids will end up in landfills, Boudreau says.

Through Kindness3D, Boudreau asks Nova Scotians to off-load empty plastic cannabis containers — lids and all — for recycling and reprocessing at his Dalhousie University Sexton Campus operation.

Boudreau says the cannabis recycling idea came to him when fans messaged him on social media about the NSLC’s “excessive” packaging.

Greg MacLean, who picked up some legal cannabis at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation last week, was shocked to see how much packaging was used for four grams of weed: two plastic containers, two cardboard boxes, and clear plastic casing, all enclosed in a brown paper bag.
Greg MacLean, who picked up some legal cannabis at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation last week, was shocked to see how much packaging was used for four grams of weed: two plastic containers, two cardboard boxes, and clear plastic casing, all enclosed in a brown paper bag.  (Greg MacLean / The Canadian Press)

He had already been collecting pop and other bottle lids since the project began earlier this year.

Using a modified paper shredder, the plastic is broken down into small pieces. These pieces are then fed into a 3D printer and constructed into artificial limbs.

Boudreau estimates that about 200-300 cannabis containers will create one prosthetic limb.

“We haven’t started printing with it yet,” he said. “But if I look at the cannabis sales in Nova Scotia, we’ll be able to smash that number.”

Nova Scotia has one of the highest sales of cannabis in the country already, which makes Boudreau hopeful that this project will be successful — especially with the help of the NSLC itself.

A change.org petition, called “Convince NSLC to donate used Cannabis packaging to Kindness3D,” was just 48 signatures shy of their 200 signature goal as of Thursday afternoon.

“We are hoping that our fans will openly contact the NSLC and help push this initiative so that they will consider actively accepting old lids from Cannabis containers and setting them aside for us,” Boudreau says.

Jacob Boudreau shows off one of his Kindness3D prosthetics made in Halifax. Boudreau is part of the e-NABLE Community, which involves people from all over the world who use their 3D printers to create free prosthetic hands and arms for those in need of an assistive device.
Jacob Boudreau shows off one of his Kindness3D prosthetics made in Halifax. Boudreau is part of the e-NABLE Community, which involves people from all over the world who use their 3D printers to create free prosthetic hands and arms for those in need of an assistive device.  (Contributed)

Currently, Kindness3D is working with local restaurants and businesses in Halifax, Dartmouth and Cape Breton, including Good Robot Brewing to act as participating locations accepting the containers.

“They recognize the potential for waste and they all want to do their part to try and help,” Boudreau says.

Eventually Boudreau hopes the NSLC will heed his petition and work with Kindness3D to collect the containers themselves.

“It’s a just a natural fit,” he said. “I’m optimistic the NSLC will come on board. It’s just a matter of time.”

Since last winter, Boudreau and his team of engineers and professors have delivered two 3D-printed prosthetic devices; one to a girl in Costa Rica and another to Brazilian athlete Kelly De Oliveira Malaquias.

With files from The Canadian Press





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