Why designers should think ‘circular’ with recycled plastics

Enhanced brand values, lower manufacturing costs and consistency of quality and supply are among the key reasons why product designers should ‘think circular’ and use recycled plastics in new goods.

“But alongside the environmental benefits of using recycled content versus oil-based virgin polymers, designers should consider consumers’ growing concern at how we are using our planet’s limited resources and incorporate fresh thinking in their plans,” urges Keith Freegard, Axion Director.

Highlighting drinks giant Coca-Cola’s recent announcement that it would move towards a 50% recycled PET content for its bottles by 2020, Keith says: “In the last few years, there’s been a huge wave of consumer reaction to plastics largely due to news headlines of beach and ocean litter. Clever brands are realising they need to vary their business model to deliver more sustainable environmentally-beneficial attributes that fit with their customers’ expectations of ‘doing their bit’ for the environment.

“Coca-Cola’s move has to be welcomed, but one key driver for the change is concern about brand damage due to high levels of recognition in the media. By tapping into growing consumers’ desires for sustainability, brand owners can further strengthen trust in their products and increase customer loyalty.”

Keith will be speaking at the ‘Sustainability’ session on September 28th at Interplas 2017, where he will advise visitors on the importance of using sustainable materials for plastics product design, how designers can put ‘circular’ thinking into practice and what to consider when making material choices.

According to Axion’s latest research, recycled polymers have significantly lower carbon footprint than oil-based virgin plastics – up to 89% for Axpoly® ABS. Axion’s 2017 Axpoly® Carbon Footprint Analysis also reveals a carbon saving of 82.5% for Axpoly® recycled HIPS and 73% for Axpoly® recycled PP. That equates to driving a 40ft lorry 45,500 miles on the saving of one full-load of Axpoly® ABS as a virgin replacement choice.

Keith adds: “Many technical, commercial and marketing reasons exist for designers to specify recycled content in place of virgin materials; whether this is for a vacuum cleaner, drink bottle or parts in a vehicle. But ultimately, through communicating that a product contains recycled plastics, you could increase the enjoyment in the use phase for the customer. What better way of generating customer loyalty – and reaping the environmental benefits!”