FACTORY JOURNAL

POSTED


PARTNER

Terracycle partners with brands to set up collection programs for hard-to-recycle waste that would otherwise be landfill-bound.

USING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE


SCOPE OF WORK:
MATERIAL STUDY & MANUFACTURING TESTING

OBJECTIVES

The M4 Design Lab specializes in two categories of materials: bio-based plastics and recycled plastics. Both are important categories to explore as alternatives to virgin petroleum plastic, but the category of recycled plastics feels especially crucial as we struggle with the staggering amount of plastic pollution on our planet.  

Rather than producing new materials, recycled materials use what we already have in abundance in our landfills, sorting facilities and in the environment—lots and lots of waste plastic. When we create something valuable out of a material that was previously considered waste, we add value to that material and to the recycling industry overall. 

M4 partnered with Terracycle to explore one of its waste materials—a post-consumer mixed polypropylene and polyethylene resin. Many manufacturers are hesitant to use materials like these because of concerns about damaging machinery. At M4 we’ve worked with a wide variety of unique resin types and our team has the knowledge to optimize production for these types of materials.  

PROCESS

M4 takes a material first approach to new regenerative materials. By testing and exploring how the material works in our equipment, how it looks and its characteristics when molded, we can then determine what type of product would be a suitable fit for the material. It then gets added to our material library for future client projects. 

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RESULTS

We tested and ran the Terracycle mixed waste pellets in our chip tool and are excited to share the results. This plastic blend would be a great replacement for polypropylene, as it functions similarly and shares many characteristics. It is naturally deep cement gray in color, but could be pigmented to match many darker tones. 

From here, we hope to partner with brands to ultilize this and other regenerative materials in product design, ultimately pushing us closer to a circular economy.