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Project Nibbler

The Problem

The waste crisis is one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. If we do not promote drastic change, our oceans will house more plastics than fish by 2050. Even worse, the current recycling system — perhaps the most trusted and accepted solution — is broken. According to the Science Advances journal, up to 2018, only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced was in fact recycled. Humanity needs to opt out of the current ineffective production and disposal cycle, while striving for a more sustainable relationship with waste materials.

The Approach

Nibbler combines reduce, reuse, and recycle into one household machine. Incremental improvements on the existing system of making, wasting, and “recycling” are not enough to create a waste-free world. Rather, we must revolutionize our relationship with trash — we can take back control of this process by transforming waste into valuable new materials. Instead of buying more and throwing it away, we can make tomorrow’s objects out of today’s trash. Nibbler enables households to lower their environmental footprint by breathing new life into mixed waste and providing an alternative for the consumption of other industrial materials.

Progress

Team Alpha Concept Work and Patent

From January 2020 through June 2021, the Alpha team took Nibbler from an idea to a U.S. Patent Pending invention. From the idea’s conception, the team carried out substantial research in the environmental economics of recycling and waste management. They determined that Nibbler could be a feasible solution to this problem, and began prototyping the grinding mechanism and hacking 3D printers to make objects out of a trash-matrix blend. They wrote both a provisional and then a full U.S. patent application, submitted in June 2021.

Student Leads

Isabella Gomes / Avenues São Paulo ’21

Isabella Gomes
Avenues São Paulo ’21

Guilherme Coube / Avenues São Paulo ’21

Guilherme Coube
Avenues São Paulo ’21

Avenues Tiger Works Colleagues

William Lidwell, Jared Thorn, Jason Holden, Brendan Cavalier, Emily Hollenbeck, Ana Paula Giorgi, Rui Zanchetta, Mike Maccarone

Team Delta Prototyping and Build

Team Delta is currently refining and optimizing the prototype of Nibbler to produce a fully-functioning machine that can receive any type of solid waste and 3D print clean, user-specified objects with a low-VOC resin that is safe for household use. This team will also carry out a Life Cycle Analysis to quantify the environmental and economic impacts of Nibbler and ensure that it is a beneficial alternative to the current recycling system. By spring 2022, we plan to spread the word about Nibbler via publications, public talks, and applying for environmental awards, spearheading a drive towards optimizing product design and beginning a marketing phase in the following year.

Student Leads

Enrico Karsten / Avenues São Paulo ’24

Enrico Karsten
Avenues São Paulo ’24

Lucas Lobo / Avenues São Paulo ’23

Lucas Lobo
Avenues São Paulo ’23

Lily-Rose Bacon / Avenues Online ’22

Lily-Rose Bacon
Avenues Online ’22

Em Baksa / Avenues New York ’22

Em Baksa
Avenues New York ’22

Renee Wang / Avenues New York ’22

Renee Wang
Avenues New York ’22

Avenues Tiger Works Colleagues

Jared Thorn, Jason Holden, Emily Hollenbeck, William Lidwell, Ana Paula Giorgi, Rui Zanchetta, Katy Garnier

ClimateLaunchpad Competition

In 2021, the Nibbler team joined the ClimateLaunchpad Competition, the world’s largest green business ideas contest (an entrepreneurship offering of EIT Climate-KIC). The ClimateLaunchpad creates a stage for cleantech ideas with the potential to address climate change issues.

68 Brazilian startups participated this year, and the Nibbler team ranked among the top ten. These finalists joined a three-day bootcamp in July to improve the entrepreneurial aspects of the projects and to prepare their pitches for the National Final competition in August. Nibbler took second place in Brazil and competed in the Regional Finals with startups from Suriname, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and other countries in the Americas in September 2021. Nibbler is now preparing for the Global Finals to be held in October 2021.

Scenes from the Project Nibbler presentation at the ClimateLaunchpad Regional Finals on September 24, 2021.

Nibbler Technology

Nibbler is a household appliance that can receive any solid waste material, grind it into fine particulates, and then combine those particulates with a binding agent, making the mix suitable for casting or 3d-printing. This process eliminates the need for centralized collection of solid solid-waste materials, providing an economically compelling and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional recycling. The Nibbler system is U.S. patent pending 63/042,126.

Contact Project Nibbler