Axion gives recycled plastics a `caffeine` kick
Tables and chairs made with waste coffee take the cappuccino experience to a whole new level thanks to a unique coffee-aroma polymer developed by Axion Polymers for Re-worked, a London-based industrial design and product development enterprise. Axion blended mixed WEEE and post-consumer retail waste plastics with spent coffee grounds collected from the capital’s offices, cafes and factories to make ‘aromatic’ pellets. Re-worked had these moulded into plastic sheeting to create Çurface (pronounced Surface) - a revolutionary and versatile hard surfacing product with a faint coffee smell. Axion, a plastic recycling specialist, believes it is the first time waste from the popular worldwide beverage has been used in this way. Re-worked commercially launched the ‘tactile’ material - described as a cross between dark leather and wood – in March at Ecobuild 2010, the UK’s largest green design and building exhibition in London, where its debut as furniture made from recycled materials attracted considerable interest. Re-worked Director Adam Fairweather hopes his idea will catch on, particularly with catering establishments for which it has particular relevance. Inspiration came to him (literally) during a coffee break while researching ways to add a new high perceptual value to non-recycled waste….such as coffee. “Coffee is a globally-traded commodity and highly-regarded in contemporary culture; so it was an obvious choice to use the waste product as a way of communicating a big message in sustainable and functional design,” he explains. “It’s a great talking point that really engages the consumer with the product’s environmental story.” Adam reckons there is great potential for Çurface, especially given its considerable source waste stream that would otherwise be landfilled. Spent coffee grounds are cleaned and sterilised before being mixed and turned into sheeting. He adds: “Every month the UK imports 14,000 tonnes of coffee from which there is plentiful waste, often in a pure form that can be separated easily for recycling. We’re working with Axion on various composite coffee products to extend the Re-worked philosophy into exciting new areas.” Steve Bell, Senior Product Development Supervisor at Axion Polymers, says this success opens up possibilities for other ‘smelly’ applications in recycled plastics. “We have the capability to do clever things with recycled materials and we’re not aware of anyone else using coffee in this way,” he adds. “It certainly gives the polymer a different appeal….and we were smelling coffee in the factory for two days afterwards,” he adds. Axion Polymers is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients within the recycling and process industries on the practical development of new processing and collection methods. For more information, contact Axion Polymers on 0161 737 6124 or visit the website - www.axionpolymers.com.