Recycled plastic meets coffee shop

Re-worked, a London-based industrial design and product development enterprise, has designed a range of tables and chairs using plastics recovered from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) plus post-consumer waste, with spent coffee grounds added to give the material the aroma of a fresh cappuccino.

coffee-filled plastic
Spent coffee grounds give the plastic recyclate its "rise-and-shine" scent.

R-worked worked with Axion Polymers on the project, with Axion (Manchester, England), a plastics recycler, supplying the compound. Spent coffee grounds for the material were collected from offices, cafes and factories to make the "aromatic" pellets. Re-worked had these processed into plastic sheet to create the material, which it markets under the name Çurface (pronounced "surface").

Re-worked commercially launched the material—described as a cross between dark leather and wood—last month at Ecobuild 2010, a 'green' design and building exhibition in London, where its debut came in the form of tables and chairs, prototype products to spark potential clients' interest and give them a look at—and sniff of—the material's potential.

"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," explained Re-worked director Adam Fairweather. The spent coffee grounds are cleaned and sterilised before being mixed and turned into sheeting.

Steve Bell, senior product development supervisor at Axion Polymers, added, "We have the capability to do clever things with recycled materials and we're not aware of anyone else using coffee in this way. It certainly gives the polymer a different appeal.... and we were smelling coffee in the factory for two days afterwards," he adds.


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