Issues and solutions regarding environmental sustainability in FabLabs

Welcome everybody!

We, Cindy Kohtala and Julian Ringhof, would like to open a discussion regarding environmental sustainability in FabLabs.

The idea was initiated a the Cowerk Congress at FabLab Berlin where the potential of FabLabs and makerspaces for society were discussed. One of the topics was environmental sustainability. We at FabLab Berlin have acquired a funded two-year project from DBU (Deutsche Bundestiftung Umwelt - A federal German environment foundation) where we will work on creating knowledge and awareness in regards to sustainable design and sustainable making. Since one of the key goals for this project is that developed solutions are transferable to other labs we would like to incorporate the input from other labs from the very beginning. First we would like to collect input on issues and solutions regarding environmental sustainability. Later we would also like to expand this to ideas on creating workshops.

Here a brief description of the project:
ecoMaker - short intro (German)

I will translate this document some time soon as well.

Please feel free to participate in the discussion in any way you want. We also created a more structured document where input can be collected via Etherpad. We will try to organize all the information collected there but feel free to briefly summarize your input there if you can.

Thanks and looking forward to your ideas,


Just to let you know that Fabio @cruzsanc1 from Lorraine Fab Living Lab and Université de Lorraine has recently share his GreenFabLab initiative with us.
You should probably have things to share…

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Thank you very much for the introduction @loicfejoz.
Hello Cindy and Julian, my name is Fabio Cruz. I work as post-doctoral researcher at Lorraine Fab Living Lab (LF2L)

We agree with you concerning the importance of creating knowledge and awareness with respect to sustainability issues at fablab level.
That’s why we are working to develope the notion of Green FabLab.
In the same way that fablabs are consider it for the “Making” aspect, we are persuaded that is it possible to give the local “Recycling” notion.
Last year we worked in a doctoral dissertation about the technical feasibility of use recycled material material on 3D printers. The research was made in laboratory conditions. And since this year, the idea is to transfer this work from laboratory to the fablab context in order to validate the concept. The final vision is to create a local circular economy around opens labs (e.g. fablabs, makerspaces, etc…). And therefore, we are focusing our efforts in terms of technical and logistical issues for plastic recycling.
Here you can find some documents of our research work (
Also, we are prototyping a website ( to make available these information, in order to be published at our official site.
It is in french for the moment, but the idea is to make an english version soon.

Let me know what are you working on.
It will be a pleasure to discusss.

Looking forward to hear from you.

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Hi @loicfejoz and @cruzsanc1,

pleasure to get in touch and thanks for your feedback. Great to hear you are working on this topic Fabio. We are in touch with Precious Plastics and will probably partner up with them to run some workshops on recycling plastics. But it would be really interesting to chat with you about your experience during your doctoral dissertation.
Are you familiar with Marco Zubieta, the founder of Fab Lab Bolivia? Maybe we can arrange a hangout to chat with him and Cindy Kohtala some time in the future.


Hello @julianringhof,
Thank you for your answer.

I know the precious plastic project. I think it is wonderful. I discovered in the middle of my research.
Honestly, I didn’t aware of the Marco Zubieta’s project. Initially I was focus on the technical side of the research.
I know some initiatives in Colombia, but most of my work is in France.
Rigth now, I am increasing the perspective of the things thanks to the fablab community -french and international-. I’m discovering different interesting projects to enlarge the potential of the fablabs.
It would be nice come make a hangout, I’m in for sure. That’s the idea, to share the experience and knowledge.

I am helping with the organization team of FAB14 for the next year here in France.
Maybe we can consider to meet if you are coming.
Let me know
Best regards,

@marcozubieta welcome to the discussion :slight_smile:

Hi all! I’m currently sitting in Timelab, in Ghent. They have some plastic recycling equipment they have developed, a shredder, filament maker and a spooler-thing. I know that people sometimes have trouble getting good, consistent-diameter filament from these filabots/recyclebots - so their report might be worth checking out. (This is related to drawing the filament out of the machine and getting it onto a reel/spool.) There are some spools of filament that look like they’re decent quality. And the documentation of the project is excellent.
see it here

Timelab also pursues projects that deal with materials that are problematic, waste or unwanted and in too much abundance. A designer is now working with Japanese knotweed, for instance, an invasive species, by shredding it, mixing it with casein, pressing it into sheets and drying it. The project is called Knotplex. See Knotplex and other projects here:

hemp bioplastic printing filament:

solution in Fellesverkstedet (Oslo):
a pressing rig for making sheet material from waste.

At our Charlotte Latin FAB Lab that is in a k-12 school, our art department use the excess scrap in students’ art work. Furthermore, our middle school engineering department uses scrap wood to develop other projects integrating new around themed assignments. For example, we are turning scrap pieces of wood into coasters in with our 8th graders, as well as we have turned scrap laser cut material into cool looking picture frames.

Hi, at Pangloss Labs, we’ve tried to be ecological from the get-go. Have some interesting experiences with trying to recycle prints back into filament (hint - it takes a really long time to collect enough plastic “waste”), and are hooked into a number of waste material streams as material input to fabrication.

Glad to see other ecological labs around.

Hi everyone,

thank you so much for sharing your experiences with this issue.

I have a couple of questions for everyone and just a short feedback in the answer thread would help a lot:

  1. Is everyone using an operating system for their fab labs at the moment? Something similar to Easy Lab which was developed here at Fab Lab Berlin. If so what operating system are you using?

  2. We are planning on implementing a sustainability feature into our operating system such that members receive information regarding material and machines with respect to sustainability before starting the machines. This includes simple advice (eg “use scrap material for a test cut when using the laser vutter”) as well as general information about materials (eg “this PLA filament has a biodegration level of 90%”) and machines. Another feature would be a dashboard that tracks a users past projects (material type, material volume, machine type, running time of machine) in order to give him/her information on their “sustainability performance”. Do you think such an implementation would be useful? Would your lab be interested in using such a tool?

Thanks everyone and have a great week!


I’m working with middle and high school students in Richmond California at the fablab at Kennedy High School. I’d love to collaborate with you and your project as we student solar power and renewable resources.