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By Rebecca McCauley Rench

As we move to a society with decentralized manufacturing driven by technology like 3D printing, shouldn’t we also be looking towards the other side of the equation? Right now, responsible Americans with access to the correct resources have limited options when dealing with materials that no longer are needed or serve their function (also known as trash). We can throw these items into the dumpster, we can recycle them if we have services nearby to do so, we can compost some materials in our backyard, or we can find someone else that wants it, such as Goodwill or Freecycle. However, why do we do this? Are those not the same atoms that we need to create our next iPhone or dinner plate? What if our society had another option, one that could prevent many items from ending up buried underground awaiting degradation for centuries? Just like we have decided to put effort, money, and research into developing decentralized manufacturing, we should be putting the same sorts of resources into decentralized recycling.