The Greek furniture company Blue Cycle aims to clear the oceans of plastic and reuse it to create new products. The company collects plastic waste from more than 38 different locations around Greece. Besides collecting the waste material by themselves they even get help from different non-government organisations and fish farms with the collecting.
The plastic waste turns into pellets which later are used for 3D printing at their own factory. The company makes different kinds of furniture, from stools and coffee tables to sunbeds, just no mention a few. All of their furniture pieces are unique due to that the colour scheme is entirely dependent on what kind of colour the waste has
— I think plastic has had a bad reputation but I don’t think it’s bad material. The problem is when it’s used once, Susan Laskaridis says, one of the founders of Blue Cycle.
With this thought in mind, the furniture themselves are unique since they are able to be recycled all over again and become something new. Blue Cycle themselves, therefore, urges people to hand in their Blue Cycle products again when they have reached their date.
Furniture designer Simon Mattisson has in collaboration with his producers, Circlab, used a 3D printing technique called additive manufacturing (AM) to transform unravelled wood from trees killed by the European spruce bark beetle and made it into new furniture.
The project started as a response to the increased spread of the spruce bark beetle, which due to the warmer climate in Sweden and Europe has spread and killed a large number of trees that have not been able to be used, until now.
— My whole thesis or idea was, can you take wood that is refused, wood that you can’t really use for anything else? In my case from dead trees which have been killed by the European spruce bark beetle, which is a tiny insect that, to put it shortly, is very bad.
The furniture is made of down-gridded timber mixed with polymers and is a material that can be made into new products after its lifespan. According to Mattisson, technologies like 3D printing are one of many ways forward in the process to make the design industry more sustainable. 3D printing has become more popular over the recent years and is here to stay and will evolve over time to be able to make new unseen product design in the future.
Ekbacken Studios have together with Chalmers University of Technology, RISE, and their producer Peniche Ocean Watch been able to create furniture made of old fishing nets collected from the ocean. With the help of 3D-printing it became possible to recycle this type of material and make furniture from the plastic waste.
Kristina Tjäder, co-founder of Ekbacken Studios and House of Dagmar, explains how the project began:
— It all started with an initiative in Portugal, called Penuchi Ocean Watch, which is a so-called blue circular project. They started to collect fishing nets and in the end, they had enormous amounts of them they didn’t know what to do with. They started to work with students to do research and together, they found out that 3D printing is a technique that can bear recycled materials better than other kinds of techniques.
The reason why old fishing nets end up in the ocean in the first place is that it’s very expensive for fishermen to hand in their nets for disposal. Ekbacken Studios has therefore entered an agreement with the fishing industry so that the fishing companies hand in old fishing nets to them instead of throwing them into the oceans. Tjäder further explains that with the use of recycled plastic waste, they have decreased the climate impact by up to 90% according to an LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), compared to using new raw materials for their products.