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Hey Aldrin Ryan Lupisan, it’s great having you here. Tell us a bit more about you
Currently a 4th year Environmental Engineering undergraduate student at UC Irvine by day and an entrepreneur by night, Will and I venture through the unknown terrains of converting typical plastic waste such as into 3D printing filament.
City where you’re from:
Born: Manila, Philippines
Grew up in: Long Beach, CA
Basketball, reading, and boba (tapioca) enthusiast
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better, It’s not.” -Dr. Seuss
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve always had the mindset of having a productive and practical way of decreasing the effects of humans on the environment. To achieve this, I knew I had to step beyond the idea of working a day job after graduation and devote myself to making my own path to better the world.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
My high school teacher, Edgar Salmingo Jr., instilled in me a passion to be a steward not only for people, but especially for those who cannot fend for themselves such as sea creatures who live in polluted waters. It was his AP Environmental Science class that propelled my desire to pursue a career in environmental engineering and, thus leading me to be a co-founder of Closed Loop Plastics.
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
I’m working with Will Amos on improving our working prototype that takes plastic waste from 3D printing and everyday plastic waste such as straws, coffee lids, things of that sort and converting it into 3D printing material to be used once more.
I remember Will and I discussed the possibility of making a system, like the one mentioned above, in our room during our 2nd year at UCI. It was just a concept then and eventually manifested into a small demonstration for the ‘workshop of the future’ in the Team OC Solar Decathlon house during our 3rd year. For those not familiar with Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, it is an international competition held by the DoE where teams are tasked to build a house entirely powered by solar through innovative design and disruptive technologies.
Our advisor and art professor, Prof. Jesse C. Jackson, sprung the idea of expanding the process by performing the research and development of our proposed system after the competition ended. Thus, our team was created and we worked in Prof. Jackson’s Speculative Prototyping Lab in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. The team consists of students from different branches of engineering and arts. This enabled us to look through different lenses for each problem we faced as a group.
How is your product/service different and unique? What’s the vision?
Most companies are focused on creating the equipment for recycling rather than focusing on the plastic material itself. By upcycling the plastic waste, the value of the plastic increases. We have been working diligently and have been able to bring the quality of our recycled 3D printing material to meet or even surpass, industry standards. Another aspect is the infrastructure that is waiting to be built! Not only are we going to process the plastic waste, but we will also be running the collection process.
Who are your customers? How do you find them?
The customers are prototyping facilities, maker spaces, and the everyday 3D printing users! We’ve even contacted local high schools and public libraries in the area that have offered their waste to be collected.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
Failures are what keep bringing our team successes. Since the formation of our team almost 2 years ago, we have encountered many difficulties in making the equipment we bought to work the way we wanted it to. By reengineering the system as a whole, we’ve managed to overcome many of the pits we were stuck in. It isn’t to say that the system is now perfect, but it has reached a stage that opens more doors for us to explore. Having the mindset of fail fast to learn quickly while applying proper engineering analysis has had tremendous benefits that help our team continue to work quickly and efficiently.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Design products to love all children, of all species, for all time. Keeping this in mind encapsulates the idea of doing good in as many aspects as possible.
Teach us something about fundraising.
One area of fundraising that our team focused on are grants. There are grants that can cover small projects that can help the ball rolling on your project/company. Be aware that grants can and will take more time than getting donations but with patience, you can get a little more money and help further your progress.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Investing time in developing yourself. Whether it’s exercise or reading books on topics that directly apply to you alone and/or your company. Because if you yourself aren’t healthy, who is going to carry out your passion and your goals?
What are some of your favorite books?
Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
In about 3 years, Closed Loop Plastics will become a vital part of the waste management system of LA and OC county. I see Will and myself becoming consultants and creating opportunities for more people to adopt our system. And in the following years, expanding to other countries to build communities dedicated to reduce plastic waste in landfills.
We previously covered Closed Loops Plastics’ partner William Amos here.