Introducing w.r.yuma, an Antwerp-based startup making fashionable sunglasses using 3D printing technology and locally recycled plastic waste. Their aim is make “the circular economy the new cool”. On the first day of their Kickstarter they went gone beyond their goal of 10.000 euros!
“Our vision is a world where waste no longer exists” says Sebastiaan, founder of w.r.yuma. “Our frames are not only made from plastic waste but, thanks to our 3D printing technology, they are also designed to disassemble for easy recycling.”
We got the inside scoop about w.r.yuma a month back and are thrilled to share it with the world!
See below for a Q & A with Sebastiaann de Neubourg, co-founder of w.r.yuma!
Tell us what inspired w.r.yuma!
Before starting w.r.yuma, I worked as a business consultant on circular economy design. I helped young and starting companies build zero waste business models, using biomimicry (sustainable innovation inspired by nature) as primary tool. During 5 years I had the opportunity to work with many passionate entrepreneurs that were experimenting with new ways of building sustainable businesses. I understood that these pioneers were actually shaping the future with their new ideas because no-one yet quite knows how a circular economy will look like.
It is the energy of these entrepreneurs that motivated me to quit my job and take on the opportunity to experiment with new sustainable business approaches and innovative technologies.
I believe that our inability to change our linear economic system of take-waste-and dispose is not so much a technical but a mental problem. I think we first need to change the way we THINK about waste. Waste is a human concept, before the industrial revolution, life on earth lived successfully without creating any waste for 3.8 billion years. Waste is a true resource and with our sunglasses I want to invite people to (quite literally) have another look at waste. We are not going to change the world with our sunglasses, but the people who wear them might. That is why I choose sunglasses; as in-your-face conversation starters.
#wasteisonlywastewhenwasted – tell us about your zero waste system in creating w.r.yuma shades and why 3D printing!
3D printing offers us many advantages. It is sustainable, efficient and we can produce on demand. We don’t waste any materials; thanks to our 3D printing technology we can make sunglasses that are designed for disassembly without the use of glues or toxic dyes so they can be easily recycled. This is exactly what we intend to do; soon customers can swap their sunglasses for a new model at a discount while the old frames are recycled in our microfactory in Antwerp. Also, working with 3D printing is great fun and gives us enormous freedom in our designs; we’ll start off with rather classic models but we will be experimenting in the future.
The circular economy is central in what we do. I also believe that a circular economy is a local economy, so we source our materials as local as possible. The recycled plastics come from within a 200 km radius from Antwerp and our lenses come from Italy. Production is currently in Antwerp but I would love to decentralise production to wherever is demand, using locally available recycled materials.
How many designs are you currently working with?
We are currently working on 6 designs that we selected for the Kickstarter. We have a lot more designs that didn’t make it in this collection but that we will share in spring next year. That is one of the advantages of 3D printing; creating new models (even in low quantities) is relatively easy. That is why we are naming all our models after the stars in the universe; leaving us with plenty options for the virtually unlimited design possibilities.
How do you source all the waste and prepare it for printing?
We work together with the Better Future Factory in Rotterdam and with Tridea in Brussels. They convert the used plastics into recycled 3D printing filament (ink) that we then use in our printers in our microfactory. Old w.r.yuma sunglasses frames will be shredded and converted into 3D printing ink again so we can use them again to 3D print new sunglasses.
What are the next steps once the Kickstarter has been successfully funded?
Next summer we plan to 3D print sunglasses live at festivals, using discarded plastic cups as our raw material. You will be able wear sunglasses made from the cup you just drank from. Festival goers will see live how we recycle and 3D print plastic waste into their own pair of sunglasses. In the future we would like to make sunglasses from fishing nets, algae, and waste products from breweries. And we are looking at new products, sunglasses are just a start..
Grab your pair and support this incredible initiative by contributing to their Kickstarter today!
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I am a social entrepreneur. That means I use business as a catalyst for social goodness. I am deeply passionate about sustainable travel, zero waste living, ethical fashion and social good. I currently run North India's first zero waste guesthouse, Hara House, and am the Content Director at Causeartist.