Jason Amri

Jason Amri (BCS in progress)
Student, Faculty of Mathematics
> Co-founder, 3cycle
> GreenHouse
> Velocity

In recent years, 3D printing has become a manufacturing resource used in small to large-scale projects from prototyping products to 3D-printed houses.  

Jason Amri, a student and Schulich Leader in the Faculty of Mathematics, says he has been 3D printing for more than a decade and eventually started accumulating a lot of plastic waste from his 3D-printed projects. He explains that this has become a problem globally where 3D-printed waste is rarely recycled and ends up in landfills. 

To address this problem, Amri co-founded 3cycle — a University of Waterloo student-run venture which uses a localized circular supply chain to collect, recycle and transform 3D-printed waste into brand new filament to give back to the community. 

We asked Amri to share his experience as a student and entrepreneur at Waterloo and his inspiration for creating this sustainable solution. 

Why did you choose to study at the University of Waterloo? 

I knew I wanted to study computer science, and Waterloo’s academic rigor and track record for programs like that was what first attracted me to the University. Then I learned quickly that Waterloo was a hub for innovation in Canada.  

But back then, I wasn't thinking of starting a venture or becoming an entrepreneur, but I’ve always been drawn to Waterloo’s reputation. I think no other Canadian university offers the same dedication to entrepreneurship and innovation as  theirs. That was one of the things that really sealed the deal for me. 

When did you see yourself becoming an entrepreneur? 

I never really thought I would be an entrepreneur. But I saw myself as a problem solver. That was one of the main things that got me interested in technology and computer science — the ability for new technologies to be used to solve interesting problems.  

3cycle was a similar situation where I saw the problem firsthand. Then starting a social venture like this was the solution. If I found something else that would act as the solution, I would have gone that way too. Becoming an entrepreneur was by accident because it's always been about solving the problems I see. 

What supports did you find on campus to help you prepare and build what 3cycle is today? 

One of the first places I started getting involved was through the Velocity Concept $5K Challenge. Through that process, I got a lot of feedback by working with judges, iterated my idea and got to build a true business plan for 3Cycle before I launched the student-run venture. 

Then, I participated in the Problem Pitch Competition, where I got to work with mentors in the Problem Lab. Next, I went through the United College GreenHouse incubator, where I got to work closely with the folks there, especially Tania Del Matto, director of GreenHouse, and Erin Hogan, the program coordinator, who helped us secure some funding. 

Jason Amri receives a GreenHouse Social Impact Fund award

I then connected with Krysta Traianovksi, the senior manager at Velocity Science, who helped us acquire more resources through Velocity. I got the opportunity to get funding through the Sustainability Action Fund from the President's office to support some of our equipment budget as well.  

Lastly, the Math Innovation office, especially Stephanie Whitney, director of Research and Innovation Partnerships, was an advocate to help us find our first office space on campus before we moved into the Velocity Science space. They also helped us negotiate discounts on some of our equipment. 

How do you see your venture contributing to our sustainable future? 

Our mission for 3cycle is to eliminate the 3D-printed waste problem. I'm hoping 3cycle can be an inspiration for a scalable solution as we address the 3D-printed waste problem at a community level. 

One thing that makes us unique is that we focus on collecting, creating and selling back recycled 3D-printed waste at the community scale. Our next goal is for our recycling process to be modeled and replicated within other communities and cities and can continue to grow that way. 

I hope we're sparking ideas on what it means to have a circular supply chain. Looking at thow we consume and dispose of anything we use as a society is very important. But understanding how we can find opportunities to take what we dispose of and turn it back into something useful for us is even more important.  

We're looking at that within the specific issue of 3D printed waste. But there's a lot of people already thinking around the circular supply chain idea. Being able to show what it looks like for a group of university students’ initiative to have had this impact at a regional scale, can be an inspiration to investigate circular supply chains and see the impact they can offer across consumption as a society. 

Having completed your pilot in the Waterloo region, what do you hope to see next for 3cycle? 

Our pilot helped us validate that people do want to contribute to our 3D printed waste pickups. It worked out very well and we've spent a lot of time since then refining how we handle our pickups and what the system looks like for that.  

We also have a partnership with a similar student team in York University to bring our offering to York region as well. We want to continue expanding to new cities and bring our pickup and recycling process to Toronto, Hamilton and London, where other universities and their students have a similar mission.  

Beyond that, we want to continue to scale our process in Waterloo. Just getting through some of the material can be tricky. So, we want to explonew technologies and systems that can help us ramp up on how quickly we can produce filament spools. Then, eventually, sell those filament spools back to our contributors and be able to generate some income and scale 3cycle. 

Watch how 3cycle launched from Waterloo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem