Welcome to eye candy, Reflow's top finds in the space of design, tech and sustainability. This week we take a look at Reflow's fun collaboration with home decor studio Supernovas, we discuss the newly released report on  plastic waste flowing into the ocean and breaking the stream, discover innovative design that provokes thinking about micro plastics in our food and an unconventional, yet innovative application of Reflow material.

Supernova: VOLTA

In case you missed it, we wanted to share a little bit about the VOLTA collection with you. It is a design collaboration between Supernovas studio and artist Paula Cademartori, made with recycled PETG from Reflow. 

Volta, meaning return in Portuguese, is a collection of multi-functional home decor pieces with architectural-like shapes in pastel colours. Motivated by the collaborative vision of protecting the environment and its future, Volta's success highlights the power of an individual to be a responsible consumer. It is a collection focused on the circular economy and circular design.  It’s a collection that’s truly focused on the circular economy and sustainability, not just of the input materials but also of end products.  The materials in this project were crucial to the designer, Paula because of the importance she places on source traceability.

Reflow’s current recycled PETG filament is sourced from a consistent, high quality, post-industrial stream of thermoformed medical trays, transformed with a leading EU recycler in Flevoland, the Netherlands. Supernovas and Paula have managed to transform plastic waste into something functional yet eye-catching. It’s one of our favourite and funnest applications of Reflow filament. We love seeing what amazing circular economy geared designs our community create. Changing the future of design and collaboration one product at a time.

Eat Less Plastic: Design that educates

Welcome to Plastic Free revolution, a time when our social media feeds are inundated with facts, tips and tricks on plastic waste, alternatives and recycling. Here at Reflow we’ve been captivated by a specific side effect of our plastic consumption, micro plastic.For London and Lisbon based creative studio, How & How, the communication challenge was to convey the severe consequences of how microplastics negatively impact our health by entering our food streams in a way that people would actually take notice.

The campaign ‘Eat less plastic’ was born out of this mission. Centring on this one key fact of the plastic pollution challenge, that we individually eat a credit card-sized amount of plastic every week, the studio created an interactive campaign to draw people in and tell them more about the wider issues. The aesthetic is akin to a pop art piece, displaying vibrantly coloured plastic bottles alongside seemingly innocuous white credit cards, aiming to draw attention to an alarming health effect of plastic entering our food supply.“It had to be arresting but not shocking; dark in tone but colourful in nature” How said. The contrasting tones, images and colours shock the viewer system and grab attention on oversaturated social media feeds.

It’s a message that resonates with the Reflow team as we consider our role in creative a transformative new system.  In line with the Ellen MacArthur Foundations goals set out in their latest report, society must eliminate harmful unrecyclable plastic and innovate after use economies as a solution to this hazard. “The plastic washing up on our beaches is a very real and obvious threat. The degraded plastic particles we’re all ingesting through water, have infiltrated the system. And we’re ingesting these at an alarming scale: a credit card-sized amount of them, per person each week.”

Zebra Glass: Working with the environment

The International educational bio design challenge (BDC) recently announced it is winning entry, “Zebra Glass”. The BDC partners students with biologists, artists, and designers to envision, create, and critique emerging biotechnology. “Zebra Glass” was the brainchild of students from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. It proposes using zebra and quagga mussels, which are invasive to the Great Lakes ecosystem, as a source of calcium carbonate in the creation of region-based artisanal soda lime glass. 

The project seeks to transform the way we view these species, and species like it, from an ecological threat to an over-abundant resource that can be harvested and used for various building applications. The process works by heating the mussels and breaking them down in a complex transformation process until it eventually becomes a vibrant ‘copper blue’ glass due to the high copper content of lake Michigan. This project shows how what was once a stigmatised invader, can become an abundant source of material, purpose and beauty.

The Chair of CCS colour and material design, Sally Erickson, hopes that projects that promote sustainability, resourcefulness and working with the environment like Zebra Glass, can start a real conversation, and force businesses and consumers start paying attention.

Breaking The Plastic Wave: Bold new strategies

We begin with some great news for the environment. As you probably know, Plastic waste is one of the biggest issues facing our planet. Despite what seems like change at a snail’s pace, finally society has of late started to mobilise in the fight against plastic. Now, the legislation has finally followed.  The Netherlands, home to the Reflow team and extrusion facility, has taken various measures to combat the insane amounts of disposable plastic ending up in the oceans. From July 3rd 2021 there will be a ban on specific disposable plastic products which will be accompanied by education campaigns on alternatives to single use plastics as well as a guide to distinct recycling systems that can be used.

So what will be different? Well, no more plastic cutlery, chip bags, cotton swabs, cups or bottles. These are some of the most widespread and common plastic pollutants, which destroy our ecosystems, end up in food chains and once they disintegrate into microplastics, penetrate our drinkable water and food supply. This announcement came shortly before the Pew charitable trust and SYSTEMIQ, along with the Ellen MacArthur foundation released a new report titled, Breaking the Plastic Wave. This piece of work illustrates in high definition how plastic pollution is rapidly outpacing efforts to stop it.

By 2040, if we fail to take action, the volume of plastic on the market will double, the annual volume of plastic entering the ocean will almost triple, and ocean plastic stocks will quadruple. The solution outlined in the paper is threefold: Eliminate plastic we don’t need, circulate what is already in the environment and innovate at unprecedented speed novel business models, sustainable material types, technologies, and collection systems to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. As Dame Ellen MacArthur said, “The question is not whether a circular economy for plastic is possible, but what we will do together to make it happen”. 

The Knurl: A new sound

Ever heard of a Knurl? We hadn’t either until last week. This new instrument is an ingenious attempt to honour the the rich traditions of the Cello, while reimagining the instrument for the future. It combines ancient design with ground breaking new technology to create a timeless hybrid. Developed by Rafele Maria Andrade, the Knurl is best not seen just merely as an object but as an ever-evolving exploration of sound and technology. This hybrid instrument blurs the distinction between playing and performing, creating a shared endeavour between performer and audience.

The Knurl has 16 strings made with recycled plastic, rechargeable by solar panels with all electronics self contained. A truly sustainable instrument, which we’d love to try out ! The possibilities for a performer are dizzyingly endless. In a global moment in which musicians, composers, and listeners have been pushed into isolation and challenged to adapt by rethinking how we make and share music, Rafaele hopes that Knurl can help us find new species of connection and we hope she finds a use for one of our filaments in this elegant instrument.

Tegan

Social Media Strategist
Plugged into the matrix, ex professional ballerina, aspiring trivia samurai and Margaret Atwood fangirl