Rubbish turned into top end products

Tom Shelley reports on some particularly innovative ways of re-using waste materials to make new products

This year's 100 % Design and 100% Details shows saw no less than three different companies with novel ways of turning old plastics, old bottles and even old carpets into innovative high value products. The carpets are being recycled by small company Carpet Burns, started by Kelly Atkins. She says she came up with the idea as a result of leaving her hot iron on a carpet when she was a student at the University of Derby. The technology comes in the form of what was described to Eureka as a large toaster, which applies heat and modest pressure to layers of synthetic carpets. The resulting HTC, or Heat Treated Carpet retains the original carpet pattern, but is a robust, non porous material with a very high resistance to staining. It has been formed into curved shapes for fruit tables, trays, magazine racks and umbrella stands and is available in thicknesses of 3mm, 6mm, 9mm and 12mm in sheet sizes of 2.5ft x 4ft (762mm x 1220mm). The development has been supported by a grant from NESTA and has won various awards. Ms Atkins has so far only been processing off cuts and ends of rolls from manufacturers and distributors but hopes to soon branch into processing post consumer waste carpets. Smile Plastics is a company that has been making art board sheets from recycled plastic items since 1994. Their latest offering is "Dapple" which is made to look like veined Piastraccia marble. A yellow and white version is made from gas pipe and large food containers, and a green and white version is made from communication cable ducting and the same food containers. Other colour combinations are available. Prices range from £165 per 2m x 1m sheet, 12mm thick, to £300 for 25mm thick sheet. Discounts are available for volume orders and other products, such as board made from bottles, yoghourt pots and vending machine coffee cups can be had for £55 a sheet. Applications include: furniture, shower and bathroom panels, work surfaces, desks and shelves. The Green Bottle Unit, an offshoot of the Free Form Arts Trust, based in East London, on the other hand, makes products from the old green and blue bottles. The material, named 'eluna', is best described as a glass ceramic and is said to be stronger than granite. Applications so far have been mainly top end architectural, such as the up lighters used in the Bishops Gate Square development, but when we visited the stand, the team had just taken an enquiry from a manufacturer of loud speakers, looking for something heavy, decorative and with the right acoustic properties. Profiles and non-slip surfaces can be moulded on if desired. Prices are currently £100s per square metre but are coming down. Carpet Burns Smile Plastics Green Bottle Unit Pointers D/T/A-Text: Old synthetic carpets can be laminated to make decorative boards retaining the original patterns and subsequently formed into various curved shapes D/T/A-Text: Smile Plastics is recycling old gas pipes, communication ducts and food containers into materials which resemble marble, but are a lot stronger D/T/A-Text: Old green and blue bottles can be recycled into a decorative glass ceramic that is stronger than granite