As shared, open, peer-learning spaces, they enable use of shared access to equipment, along with the potential for expanding this more widely into the community via initiatives such as tool/equipment libraries.
These spaces also provide opportunities for fix-it clinics/repair cafes and other initiatives that promote the circular and collaborative economies — reusing, repairing and fixing things, and transmitting the knowledge of how to do so.
Digital fabrication techniques - which are often a key element of these spaces - enable productive activity with more precision in the use of materials, creating less waste that needs to be salvaged in the first place. The ability to design to order, customise, and produce in small batches also avoids the wasteful over-production aspects of existing manufacturing.
At the other end of the materials life cycle, digital fabrication techniques in workshops
offer new opportunities such as RecycleBots, FilaBots and
(itself an open source machine that can be fabricated in a makerspace) devices for converting
3D printer and other plastic waste into new filaments for reuse of plastics as 3D printer ‘ink’.
In their operations, these workshops can also be exemplars of source-separated waste and recycling systems and resource management focused waste contracts, which reward service providers for how much material they recycle, rather than just a fee for emptying bins.