Although plastic is commonly seen as a source of pollution, today’s building designers are putting this attractive and multifunctional material to good use in their projects.
Over the past seven decades, Bolon has evolved from a family business (and it remains just that, as operated by Annica and Marie Eklund) that went from making rag rugs from offcuts to generating ecoconscious flooring products that reduce plastic waste.
Flow, Bolon’s first recycled flooring collection, takes old bits of flooring and grinds them into granules to be bound and reshaped into a new material that restarts the cycle. They take waste products from other manufacturers, ridding of dangerous substances and recycling materials globally. Their process is low emission and their materials absent of phthalates, rendering their flooring non-hazardous and lending them a life span of 10-15 years. Now they can be recycled.
Plasticiet is a new material manufactured in the Netherlands in 2018 by Marten van Middelkoop and Joost Dingemans, which offers a collection of elite, well-designed, recycled surface materials.
Generated with reuse and repurpose in mind, Plasticiet utilises raw ingredients easy to recycle and that possess large and consistent waste streams. Each surface employs a solitary material such as recycled polystyrene or polycarbonate so that each panel can be reused, not wasted. Capturing and reprocessing large quantities of unwanted or contaminated plastic destined for landfill or incineration, Plasticiet captures and morphs these plastics into a material for furniture, fixtures, architecture and design.
Pretty Plastic was started by architects Peter van Assche of Bureau SLA and Reinder Bakker and Hester van Dijk of Overtreders W. Wanting to facilitate a circular economy, the Dutch team invented the first recognizable facade material culled from 100 percent upcycled plastic waste.
Pretty Plastic designs and manufactures facade shingles, the tiles for which were developed for the People’s Pavilion, a temporary auditorium built at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven in 2017. The pavilion personified the principles of the circular economy and their application to design, with each part designed to be reused once the structure was decommissioned. The pavilion was comprised of 9,000 bespoke molded plastic shingles consisting of waste collected from local residents.
Following much development and testing, the team has invented a certified cladding material. Each tile consists of waste plastic collected from building sites in the Netherlands before being sorted and shredded. After being cut up these tiles are shipped to Belgium, where they are morphed into shingles by Govaplast. The Sint-Oelbert Gymnasium school at Oosterhout in the Netherlands is the premiere permanent structure to be clad via shingles.
Camira is an established brand known for beautiful and high quality products. In 2020 they pledged to develop and introduce their premiere fabric consisting of sea waste. Partnering with SEAQUAL, Camira launched Oceanic.
The new product is generated from post-consumer recycled plastic, incorporating debris and bottles discarded and wasted. Oceanic is a strong and longlasting upholstery fabric in a spectrum of usable and contemporary colours. Delicately dyed with the use of cationic yarn, the multi-tonal textile offers both a light warp and a darker weft. This visual detail generates a subtle pattern with an intricate twill weave, enhancing the subject colour and construction of the fabric.
Gjenge Makers is a social enterprise whose objective is to meet the need for sustainable and cost-conscious alternative building materials in Kenya. When businesswoman Nzambi Matee founded Gjenge Makers, her plan was to conjure solutions to the plastic pollution problem. A material science major, Nzambi laboured as an engineer in Kenya’s oil industry; then, in 2017, she began to manufacture recycled bricks. She knew which plastics would bind better, utilizing a combo of high-density polyethylene contained in milk and shampoo bottles, the low-density polyethylene discovered in sandwich and cereal bags, and the polypropylene utilised in ropes and buckets and invented machinery that would permit her to mass-produce them.
Nzambi now has hired 112 people representing marginalized communities as plastic pickers, supplying employment to women and young people who otherwise would not have the opportunity to work. The Nairobi-based factory can produce 1,500 bricks and recycle about 500 kilograms of waste plastic a day.
Gjenge paving bricks are available in a spectrum of colours and are strong, sturdy and durable.
Image source: istockphoto.com