Innovation That Matters

Styrofoam takes up to 30 per cent of the space in Landfill | Photo source Canva

Recycled styrofoam furniture highlights the need for local solutions

Architecture & Design

Creation of the pieces occurs on-site at waste management facilities

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Spotted: Mini manufacturing plants near waste management facilities certainly reduce the cost of transporting materials for recycling. And this is exactly what Japanese design studio we+ wants to emphasise. Despite Styrofoam being a highly recycled product, the recycling process itself is damaging to the environment.

Typically, Styrofoam is melted down into ingots in the first step of the recycling process. The ingots are then shipped to Europe and Asia to be broken down into small granules that are then shipped to China for reassembly as inexpensive recycled plastic items. Instead of using such a long and complex supply chain, the studio takes waste Styrofoam directly from waste processing plants and turns it into a collection of tables, benches, and stools. Called Refoam, the compressed Styrofoam is the second collection in the company’s Urban Origin series of products.

The series is part of we+’s research into the overconsumption that marks current human relationships with materials and items. Refoam products are available for sale from the studio website and include coffee and console tables, stools, and vases. Each piece requires a lead time of three months to produce.

With Styrofoam being such a difficult product to reuse or recycle, Springwise has spotted projects specifically working to replace the need for it, often by using paper instead. An electronics company introduced new packaging made from bamboo, sugar cane, and post-consumer recycled paper, while a research team created a paper-based building insulation material.  

Written by: Keely Khoury



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