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Fight Marine Waste with 3D printing, Watamu Kenya

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The Rapid Foundation's aim is to use open-source disruptive technologies globally to solve problems by local people and achieve UN sustainability goals. We want to not just spread technology around the world but also knowledge. At Eco-World Watamu, Kenya our aim is to fight marine plastic waste pollution on the Kenyan North Coast using open-source disruptive technology such as 3D printing, whilst creating new opportunities for growth and prosperity for the locals of Watamu.

If you would like to contribute to this project, either knowledge, volunteering, or direct donations, or learn more about it then please feel free to contact us.

Our Goal

Fight marine waste through open-source disruptive technology in Watamu, Kenya including 3D printing, to transform dangerous and destructive plastic waste into usable products to help people grow, be it in education, assistive technology, job creation or new innovations. We believe that this can be a pilot project that can be replicated globally in the fight against marine waste. 

Local Partners

Watamu Marine Association (WMA) is leading the way in public education, directly addressing problems, employing community members to collect solid waste from beaches, which is then recycled, reused or upcycled where possible. Eco World, a local recycling facility established by WMA has created jobs for locals through collection of this waste via organised beach cleans, supporting the facility mainly through the sale of the plastic once sorted and shredded. They are working with locals and business to recycle and convert waste streams into usable products.


Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues today (National Geographic). Most of this is visible in developing Asian and African nations, where the waste management is inefficient or non-existent. During the UN Environment Assembly 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, the message was clear: single-use plastics are a major issue. With a call to look for alternatives and a significant reduction in use by 2030. However, at present, there is no UN agreement to end this crisis, despite some countries taking action against plastic pollution, with Kenya implementing a national ban on plastic bags since 2017 (UN).

Despite this, the Watamu Marine Park and Reserve beaches and environments have become increasingly impacted by plastic waste. Due to the nature of the ocean currents in the region, much of the waste is washed ashore from other countries in the Southwest Indian Ocean, threatening biodiversity. Along with the lack of waste collection sites and disposal facilities, a considerable amount of waste is dumped by locals on roadsides and wastelands. Exacerbated by many people, such as tourists leaving plastic bottles and bags on beaches.The deterioration of the environment consequentially impacts health and welfare along with discouraging tourists, threatening a lack of income and employment within the area.

Our Solution
Inspired by WMA’s work we want to help them to grow and support the local communities through our extensive engineering knowledge. We aimed to equip them with 3D printing facilities and 3D skills whilst giving them the abilities to produce their own 3D printing materials in the form of plastic 3D printing filament from recycled polymers. This material feeds the 3D printer and looks like a wire. It can be fed directly into the 3D printer and our aim is to make it from recycled polymers.
With the support of CREATE Education and iMechE Ireland we secured an Ultimaker 3D printer Original for Eco World Watamu and funding to travel to set up and train the staff there. I built the Ultimaker Original 3D printer with Karen and Myra from Eco World, whilst training them on the 3D printer itself including calibration, operation, 3D modelling, slicing and printing.

The major benefit will be the onsite capability to not just collect, shred and process marine plastic, but to turn that into useable products and artifacts through 3D printing. These 3D printed items can be used for education tools, models, prototypes or other items, including low cost prosthetics or newly developed local innovations.
As a by-product the local community will also have access to advanced technologies and be able to learn about these and their benefits also.

Our Impact to date

  • Established the first 3D printing facility at Eco-World Watamu, a Watamu Marine Association recycling facility

  • Trained two locals in 3D modelling, printing and digital trends in manufacturing who are now spreading that knowledge locally

  • The facility has introduced 3D printing to several school groups already alongside and other community members

  • 3D printing gives an easy and advanced method for making and prototyping whatever is needed

  • Created 3D printing filament from 100% recycle marine waste collected in Watamu

  • Initial 3D printing from 100% recycled filament started


Next Steps

  • Establish 3D printer filament making at Eco-World Watamu, to convert the recycled materials into filament so they can be used to 3D print usable objects

  • Develop repeatable filament production methods which can be used at Eco-World with marine and recycle plastics

  • Training of locals on how to produce filament and 3D print with it

  • Establish a powerful computer to help the locals 3D model onsite

  • Continued remote and hands on support and training through video calls and travel to Watamu 

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