I focused on plastic grocery bags because they are everywhere. I would go on hikes into the hills, and runs through the city and would see bags littered all over the place, so I started collecting them. I began calling companies, landfills, families and friends and began recycling drives. The goal was to create something beautiful using only trash. I wanted the pieces to help others see the need and the beauty of recycling. I researched and experimented until I perfected this new process.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
Müll consists of two furniture pieces made from plastic trash. Each year an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. Unfortunately, less than 5% of those plastic bags are recycled. My project focuses on reducing waste. In an effort to help others see the need for recycling, I created a process where flimsy plastic bags are turned into stable sturdy furniture pieces. One man’s trash really is another man’s treasure.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
The milk stool and side table are fully functional furniture pieces. They are extremely strong and durable and are meant for use. We have done strength tests with the plastic and have found that it is just as strong, if not stronger than a typical hard wood. Sometimes the characteristics of this recycled plastic is better than hard wood.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
Müll was the result of my senior thesis while obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design at Brigham Young University. It started in August 2014 and finished in April 2015, and was exhibited at a few shows from April-July 2015.
FITS BEST INTO CATEGORY:
Arts, Crafts and Ready-Made Design
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
The experimentation phase of the project was messy and time consuming. It took months of experimentation, with loads of failed attempts. Each failure helped me understand how the plastic behaved and what I needed to change the next time around. Slowly the experimentations began to take shape until I finally had an end result that I was satisfied with – a full block of beautiful swirled recycled plastic. I used those blocks as my raw materials and shaped those into the strong furniture pieces.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Milk Stool - 280mm x 280mm x 460mm
End Table - 360mm x 360mm x 680mm
furniture, side table, milk stool, plastic, recycle, recycling, design, green
There are two types of plastic, thermoset plastics and thermoplastics. Thermoset plastics contain polymers that cross-link together during the curing process to form an irreversible chemical bond. These cross-linked polymers eliminate the ability to change the shape of the plastic form when heat is applied. Essentially, recycling with thermoset plastics is very difficult. Thermoplastics do not have cross-linked polymers. They contain polymers that form linear or branch-like structures, which is why they can be molded when heated. This makes any thermoplastic a great choice for recycling.
A few of the types of thermoplastics include polyethylene, PVC, polystyrene, acrylics, polyesters, and nylon. I decided to focus on polyethylene, specifically HDPE, because of its high strength to density ratio and because of its accessibility in the environment. A few common HDPE products are milk containers, laundry detergent bottles, Tupperware, oil/laundry detergent/shampoo bottles, and grocery bags.
1 trillion plastic bags are consumed every single year. Only 5% of those bags are recycled, which leaves an alarming amount of plastic trash floating around the environment. One plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down.
The experimentation phase was the most challenging. It took months of experimentation, with many failed attempts. Each failure helped me understand how the plastic behaved and what I needed to change the next time around. As each piece took form, I realized I could create something of serious substance entirely out of flimsy plastic trash.
TEAM MEMBERS (1) :
Carter Zufelt, 2015.