Designed to use recycled materials

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When designing, choose materials that have been recycled or that are designed to be recycled. Close the loop!

Materials like steel, copper, aluminum, glass, and some plastics can be recycled many times. There is little reduction in quality and the amount of material and energy used the second and subsequent times around is dramatically reduced. For example, when aluminum is recycled, the process uses only 5 percent of the energy needed to make the original item.


‘Wiggle’ Chair

‘Wiggle’ Chair
Chair, ‘Wiggle’, cardboard, designed by Frank Gehry, United States, 1972, made by Vitra, Germany, 2002.

The ‘Wiggle’ chair is made from ‘Edge Board’, a material based on glued layers of corrugated cardboard running in alternate directions. The material is strong, noise-reducing, and environmentally sustainable.

Edge Board is innovative cardboard material that is strong enough to make practical furniture but lightweight and cheap to produce. It can be made from recycled cardboard.

The more lightweight you can make a product, the fewer carbon emissions will be generated when transporting it to consumers.

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Basin

Basin
Basin, wash-up, tin/wood, rectangular shaped basin made from a kerosene tin cut & opened to form 2 triangular shaped containers in a wood frame, Dungog, Maitland District, NSW, Australia, used by family of Mrs Mary Shearer when camping (OF).

This washing basin was made from old Kerosene tins mounted on to a wooden frame.

By giving these tins a second life it saved them from ending up in landfill after just one use.

Designing products from recycled materials is also a cost effective way to be sustainable.

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‘Weblight’

‘Weblight’
Pendant light shade, ‘Weblight’, plastic / metal, designed and made by DesignbyThem, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2009.

This light is an example of beautiful product that has been sustainably designed to minimise its negative impact on the environment.

The light shade is made from recycled plastic bags and factory waste, and features an organic pattern of texture and holes that are the direct result of its unique forming process.

By choosing to make the product out of recycled content, using a lightweight unconventional mould, and using 100% renewable energy, the designers have incorporated energy and material efficiency throughout the product’s life cycle.

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Pillowcase

Pillowcase
Pillowcase, flour bag, cotton, Mrs. F L Manwaring, Australia, c 1930-1945.

This pillowcase was made out of a reused flour bag.

By reusing materials there is little to no energy consumed in the creation of this pillowcase. By giving this flour bag a second life it saves waste from ending up in landfill after just one use.

Designing products from recycled materials is also a cost effective way to be sustainable.

See this object in our Collection


The Powerhouse Museum has collected examples of design for more than 130 years. This database shows how some items in its collection meet one or more criteria for design for the environment.

Sustainable design database topics:

Designed for easy reuse
Designed for energy efficiency
Designed for service substitution
Designed to be degradable
Designed to last
Designed to minimise packaging
Designed to use recycled materials
Designed to use renewable resources
Designed to use waste by-products


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