We're on a mission
At Smile Plastics, we have two main goals. Firstly, we want to create the most beautiful circular plastics in the world – 100% recycled and 100% recyclable materials. Secondly, we want to challenge ideas about “waste” and the system that creates it.
We are achieving this in a number of ways. Read on to discover why we focus on plastic, our production process and how our current economic model needs to change. We'll tell you why we think plastic can be part of a green future.
The closed loop:
Every end is a new beginning
Our decorative surface panels are a step towards a comprehensive circular economy and closed-loop material cycle. If you love your Smile Plastics material, don’t part with it – you can always hit repeat to keep coming back to it. Because they’re high in quality, designed to last and solid throughout, they can easily be refinished or repurposed for other projects.
Our buy-back scheme
We follow a zero-waste production model – seeing our off-cuts as opportunities. We re-use pieces generated by production and can offer our customers the possibility to reclaim the material. In a world of increasing waste handling costs and regeneration awareness, this is a compelling possibility.
Our materials are designed to last but at the end of their life, they can be recycled over and over again both through local recyclers as well as through our buy-back schemes, so that the plastics are constantly regenerated. We can take back your offcuts, plus any end-of-life Smile Plastics materials. We re-work them into new panels, closing the loop and ensuring the plastics can brighten someone else’s day in the future. A true full circle ecosystem!
We love plastics
We include distinct traces of the plastics’ origins in their new life to create a narrative around the materials. This can take shape as flecks of foil from original yoghurt pot lids or text and barcodes from plastic packaging. The details draw you in, letting you know quietly how those materials came to be.
The “waste” that powers our plastic
We’ve worked with a range of materials but our real love is plastics. We source post-industrial, commercial and single-use consumer plastics – often from food and medical packaging. Plastics such as these are typically low value for the waste management industry and may end up in landfill or incineration plants. However, through design, we flip the value category on its head creating high-value materials that people want to be around.
We should be fighting the linear model, not plastic
Plastic is getting bad press but the real problem is the economic model. The linear cycle, where plastics are produced for very short, single lives before being discarded is completely unsustainable and pollutes our planet. Currently plastics are regarded as low value and disposable with short-term and badly managed lifecycles. But what if we created a circular ecosystem where a limited stock of plastics was recycled over and over?
The principles behind our process
Our process is based on craftsmanship and high-quality engineering. Whether it’s the sourcing and sorting of raw materials or the manufacturing of panels and finished products, everything is handled with care and much of what we do is by hand.
To keep our carbon footprint low, Smile Plastics equipment uses a fraction of the energy that traditional plastics processing machinery uses – and we’re constantly improving too. We also try to source our supplies as close as possible to our micro-factory in South Wales.
We keep the processing of the materials as low-intensity as possible. Not only do we have a lower carbon footprint, the plastic compounds also don’t become denatured. This allows us to repurpose them over and over again.
A wonder material. With a green future
Plastic has an incredible provenance – having been formed from living organisms that fell to the sea floor millions of years ago, crushed by the earth into sediment and then transformed by bacteria into hydrocarbons, like crude oil, and then finally processed into plastics. Easy to manufacture, lightweight, malleable, waterproof and very durable, plastics are a wonder material that has become the go-to for so many sectors and applications.
Changing perceptions through design
At Smile Plastics, we try to change attitudes by creating meaningful experiences. Narratives woven into the surface of our products honour our post-consumed “waste” materials. We believe that it’s a far more powerful story of recycling if you can tell it through the product itself.
Of course, what we do is only a drop in the ocean. But we hope that the drop will create ripples that inspire others. Recycling plastics and elevating them into beautiful, durable, sustainable materials is only one part of the answer. But we think it’s an important one.