The Best Filaments To Use for Sustainable Printing

A significant evolution is happening in 3D printing, not just in its technology and applications but also in the sustainability of materials used. The integration of eco-friendly 3D printing practices caters to sustainability principles. The growing use of 3D printing complements the many different types of 3D printers available to use, each capable of using eco-friendly materials to create less impact on the planet. But among the many factors involved in sustainable printing, several filaments have emerged as front runners. They present an ecologically sound alternative to traditional filaments, underlining the industry’s commitment to reducing carbon footprints and promoting green initiatives.

Learn the best filaments to use for sustainable printing.

PLA (Polylactic Acid) Filament

PLA is one of the most popular bioplastics derived from earth-friendly resources like corn starch or sugarcane. It biodegrades much quicker than other plastics, making it a staple in sustainable printing circles. While it’s not the strongest material and is susceptible to warping if used with improper techniques, its low environmental impact makes it viable for many applications.

However, many people ask, “Can you recycle PLA 3D printer filament?” The answer is affirmative but with a footnote. PLA is industrially compostable within specific conditions; it requires a certain temperature to break down, which is not achievable in typical home composting setups. Therefore, if recycling is the goal, it’s crucial to have access to a proper facility.

PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) Filament

PETG is clean and highly flexible. What makes PETG particularly appealing is that it combines the recyclability of PET (the same material used in plastic bottles) with additional glycol, which prevents it from becoming brittle. It’s recyclable in the proper facilities and offers a greener footprint without compromising the durability and quality of the prints.

Wood Filaments

Wood filaments are a PLA base mixed with wood dust, cork, and other powdered wood derivatives. These filaments give the prints an authentic wooden look and feel, which can be sanded and stained like real wood, providing an organic aesthetic to projects. The presence of natural fibers makes it a more environmentally responsible choice.

Recycled Filaments

The 3D printing community has taken significant strides in repurposing waste into valuable recycled filaments. You can break these filaments and plastics into fine granulate before extruding them again into usable filament. This process prevents plastic waste from ending up in landfills and conserves the energy and resources that go into producing virgin plastic filament.


Filaments infused with other natural materials, like flax, hemp, and bamboo, constitute a new class of materials known as biocomposites. These materials blend bioplastic with sustainable fibers that add strength and a unique finish to prints and reduce plastic use.

For those committed to sustainability, the filaments above offer a clear path to eco-friendly and ethical 3D printing practices. It’s not just about choosing 3D printing materials that don’t significantly impact the environment; it’s also about innovating and utilizing recyclable filaments that decompose naturally without harming the ecosystem. The transition to sustainable materials proves equally promising for the health of the planet and the dynamism of the creations it inspires.

Dianne Buettner

Dianne Buettner is a Publishing Coordinator at Logical Position, a digital marketing agency that writes dynamic SEO articles to create measurable growth. She is based in Chicago and is passionate about SEO development.

Dianne Buettner has 18 posts and counting. See all posts by Dianne Buettner

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