Over 11% of household waste is plastic. It is critical today that we begin to recycle the plastic waste and use products made of the plastic we recycle. If you don’t like doing it, here is an incentive for you.
Designers today are thinking up new ways to make everyday products out our recycled materials. They are taking advantage of this new market not only because it is an opportunity but because they care. Much of the infrastructure in place for recycling materials into new materials is quite energy intensive. Good design minimizes steps, maximizes efficiency and utility, and invests beauty that will sustain over time. This type of new market gives designers an opportunity to develop new materials, experiment, design, and create. With advances in tools and processes, and an excess of waste we have a clear and direct opportunity.
Cohda Design is a UK based design group has developed a new process for recycled plastic called U.R.E.- Un-cooled Recycled Extrude. “The URE process is a conclusion of a 2 year research project by Cohda Design on the use of waste plastics in design, the associated environmental problems, and the design limitations imposed since the early 1990’s by pre-manufactured recycled sheets and lumber.” The three main qualities of this new process are that it utilizes packaging waste as a material resource, it takes advantage of the embodied energy in waste plastics, and it creates a new recycled plastic aesthetic. In addition, since the process takes raw trash and creates the new material on site, the recycled plastics don’t have to get sent all the way to China to be formed into recycled sheet material. This cuts down on transportation and production waste. The result is an extruded tube of plastic that Cohda is using to make chairs and other furniture that are surprisingly lightweight and strong. The Cohda chair is called the RD4- Roughly Drawn Chair. When the material is still soft, they wrap it around a mold to create the form of a chair.
As expected, Richard Liddle the founder of Cohda and URE sounds like an interesting man. In his bio he claims- since he received his first tool set as a small child he loved taking things apart. In my opinion, this is always a good sign. This means he likes to know how things work. Beginning in the late 80’s he started putting things together again and redesigning them.
This past October Cohda reached a new wave of fame. Richard performed the process of materials and furniture making live. Two different design events- The Design Council’s Dott07 (design of the time) Festival and the DE07 hosted Cohda’s performance as a public recycling factory. The team created multiple recycled designs over a 10-day period. The waste plastics for the events were collected from surrounding areas as well as the public- attendees were encouraged to bring along their own plastic waste for them to bread down and re-form. You can view a performance of the work here.