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Beyond single use: Interesting products made from recycled products

From big businesses to backyard entrepreneurs, the re-use of plastic bottles is a big trend.

You might have missed the announcement, but Coca-Cola Sweden stated this year that they would soon be making all their bottles from recycled materials. Coke’s change of direction is heartening, and it aligns with a worldwide shift in attitudes towards environmental friendliness.

Many of us have been collecting plastic bottles for a couple of decades now, and more and more single-use bottles are getting reclaimed, melted down, and repurposed. Much of the recycled plastic goes through energy-intensive industrial processes that see it treated as a raw material and turned into insulation, flooring and clothing. There’s also a growing movement towards what we might call ‘DIY repurposing’ — plastic carafes remade into terrariums, planting cloches painstakingly assembled from stapled-together soda bottles and so on.

This article looks at five growing businesses operating between those extremes. Their designs are smart, and their working processes are in most cases gentler and less energy-intensive than those of the large-scale recyclers. How do their products score on aesthetics and on ‘eco cred’?

Repurposed rucksacks

Agents of Change have a large range of eco-conscious gifts, and the ‘Whirlpool’ and ‘Tree of Life’ backpacks are typical of their approach. Each backpack uses up to 10 plastic bottles and blazons its eco message via an appropriately-themed graphic. There are better-looking backpacks on the market, of course, but these reasonably-priced pieces will show that your heart is in the right place.

Aesthetics 2/5

Eco cred 3/5

Bottles into baskets

Devon-based Weaver Green have applied traditional weaving and basketry skills to strip-cut bottles. Their subtle, refined designs wouldn’t look out of place on a Laura Ashley homestead, and their prices won’t break the bank either. Want to show that you’re saving the planet? You’ll need to point out the label…

Aesthetics 3/5

Eco cred 3.5/5

Green statement lamps

Nottingham-based designer Sarah Turner does commissioned projects for big clients like Nandos, and sells her own designs on the side. Her Cola 10 hanging lamp, made from 10 Coke bottles cut so that they curl up like flower petals, has become a signature piece.

Aesthetics 4/5

Eco cred 3.5/5

Surf’s up!

The Australians are mega-conscious of the impact of plastics on the marine environment, and Five Oceans’ design is precision-targeted on controversy. Who could have imagined a retrofit surfboard fin made from recycled bottles?

Aesthetics 4/5

Eco cred 4.5/5

A leg to stand on

Fabian Engel and Simon Oschwald came up with their idea of recycling plastic from Africa to address the continent’s deficit of prosthetic limbs just two years ago. Now their first products are being rolled out in Kenya and Uganda. Way to go, guys!

Aesthetics 5/5 Ec

Eco cred 5/5

Amey Plastics is a leading UK plastic manufacturer, specialising in injection moulding and 3D Printing services. If you’ve got a project or a concept, including one that involves using recycled materials, our specialist team of designers and engineers can talk you through the manufacturing stages and find the most efficient and cost-effective solution for your requirement. Get in touch today by clicking here or call us on 01730 266525.


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