But there’s a new company looking to our most prevalent modern trash types, from cigarette butts to smartphones, to create some pretty slick homewares.
New upcycled design startup Pentatonic is the brainchild of CEOs and partners Jamie Hall and Johann Boedecker. Their main mission? “To lead the world into the circular economy.”Â
“We were drawn together over a mutual frustration with the abundance of trash in our system and the lack of dynamic, design-led solutions being presented,” says Hall.Â
The pair were frustrated at not only the impact of trash on our environment, but also a rich and untapped stream of manufacturing material.Â
According to Pentatonic’s website, more than 480 billion plastic bottles were bought around the world last year â that’s a quantifiable shitload of potential building material.
Hall and Boedecker source trash with the help ofÂ leading and boutique waste management companies in Europe, who supply plastics, metals, glass and food waste. Then, they strategically select each recyclable material for its structural properties.Â
For example, Pentatonic’s most commonly used material polyethylene (PET), found in plastic water bottles, is highly malleable, so it’s great for seating and upholstery. Meanwhile, polypropylene (PP) found in milk bottles, coffee cup lids and drink bottle lids is structurally sound, and therefore used for weight bearing components like chair and table legs.
Look, they even make bowls from old smartphone screens:
So, how does this actually work?Â
Pentatonic have been working with Miniwiz, a Taiwan-founded international upcycling company dedicated to repurposing consumer trash and industrial waste.Â
“Each material stream undergoes very different treatments and recycling procedures,” says Boedecker.Â
Importantly, no resins, glues or harmful additives are used in the process. “For plastic upcycling, the general process begins with collection, washing, sorting (mechanical) and re-pelletizing with non-toxic additives.”Â
Taking a leap into some seriously dirty territory, Pentatonic will launch a collection using cigarette butt waste in early 2018.Â
“We can’t reveal too much just yet other than cellulose acetate, taken from cigarette filters, is a material weâre developing for multiple end uses,” says Hall.
Another building block: The Trashpresso
Meanwhile, they’re headed to the London Design Festival, to launch The Trashpresso, the worldâs first mobile, off-grid mini recycling plant, conceived to bring industrial grade recycling to isolated communities.Â
Over the week, festival visitors will be able to see London trash made into tiles, which will then be distributed to a number of locations around the city.
At this stage, like many sustainable projects, Pentatonic isn’t exactly cheap â especially to buy. Chairs range from â¬229â495 ($274â592), and tables are â¬995 ($1191), which is pretty standard for modern high-end design, but not as cheap as say, IKEA.Â
But it’s the price you pay, for now, for products with traceability, embedded recyclability and modularity â and just generally being invested in the planet’s wellbeing.