Tired of Dishwashing? Recycle Those Plates

Your home dish washing may seem annoying. But for a restaurant or cafeteria, it can be a nightmare. Huge inputs of water and energy are needed to maintain the hundreds or thousands of dishes these businesses need every day. And the storage space needed for those plates, bowls and cups really adds up. A new prototype tableware system developed at MIT's Media Lab proposes a solution to this problem: Don't store, create to suit...Their Dishmaker machine forms bowls, cups and plates on demand from disks of acrylic by heat-forming them with air and molds. When the plates are finished being used, they are heated and pressed back into sheets for compact storage. They claim that the energy input needed to recycle a plate like this three times a day for a year is comparable to that needed to create a single ceramic plate, because ceramics are fired at such a high temperature.

Of course, like any prototype, there are kinks to work out. Cleaning, for one, isn't really done, so oils can become infused into the plastic over time. Also, the forms of the tableware are not exactly beautiful, and are somewhat awkward to use. Nevertheless, the concept is interesting, and we're firmly behind anyone trying to reduce energy consumption in production. Rock on Dishmaker! :: MIT's Dishmaker (Via Wired)