The Wonder in Waste

At Smile Plastics, we rediscover the beauty and functionality hidden in the materials we traditionally class as ‘waste’. Working towards the circular economy, we design and make distinctive architectural panels and aesthetic surface products from pre- and post-consumer waste.

Misty Marshes of Smile Plastics' Micro Factory Location. Swansea, UK

who we are

Our micro-factory on the southwest coast of Wales has a worldwide reach. Smile Plastics’ 100% recycled, 100% recyclable plastic panels are trusted by architects, designers and luxury brands around the globe, used in everything from retail displays and counters to furniture, signage and shower panels. Whether it’s a small volume run, or a bulk order of 1,000 or more, we have the technology and production capacity to deliver at scale and at speed.

As good as new—if not better

We believe recycled materials can—and should—be as beautiful as new. Focusing on single-use plastics, ranging from white goods to yoghurt pots, Smile Plastics sources materials that would usually be consigned to landfill and, through a proprietary process, reinvents them as aesthetic, functional, and—importantly—recyclable surfaces.

Recyclable plastic 'waste' materials
Plastic Waste by A Potato Head Studios

The story in the surface

The beauty of Smile Plastics panels is the traces they bear of their former lives. A fleck of silver might hint at a history as a yoghurt lid, or a fragment of a bar code could hark back to a piece of product packaging. We sort our pre- and post-consumer waste plastics by colour, polymer type, grade and material characteristics, and, like a painter or a whisky blender, selectively combine them to create distinctive surface patterns, ranging from natural stone mimics to vibrant, maximalist styles.

Effortlessly adaptable, made to last

Easy to work with, care for and maintain, Smile Plastics sheets are engineered for versatility. They can be cut, jointed and thermoformed to suit numerous applications, and they are resilient and durable enough to withstand years of use. Their patterned surfaces evolve over time, acquiring character and depth much like timber or leather.

It’s not just about the aesthetic; testing is key to delivering peak quality so people can cherish our materials for a long time.

Raw material for Grey Mist and Charcoal
Alexander Schul Chair. Jointed and thermoformed Charcoal 5mm
Make Relief. Kerf Stool. Thermoformed 12mm Grey Mist
ACAD x Smile Plastics Ocean Chair

Full-circle fabrication

Smile Plastics’ production is a circular process. Any waste plastics generated during manufacture and cutting are returned to the beginning of the process, modelling zero-waste manufacture. And, although the panels are built for longevity, they are 100% recyclable, with no additives, binders or resin—just pure recycled raw material. Any Smile Plastics product can be recycled locally or, thanks to our buy-back scheme, returned to us to be remade all over again.

Adam Fairweather and Rosalie McMillan. Smile Plastics Founders

In every end is a beginning

Smile Plastics was first established in the early 1990s by engineer Colin Williamson and designer Jane Atfield, creator of the recycled-plastic RCP2 Chair (now in the V&A’s permanent collection). For almost two decades, the company led the way in showcasing the design potential of recycled plastic, until Colin’s retirement in 2010. In 2015, the then-dormant brand was revived by Adam Fairweather and Rosalie McMillan, employing new processing techniques and low-energy manufacturing technology that enable rapid, high-volume production via a continuous, 24/7 batch process.

RCP2 Chair design by original founder Jane Atfield. Manufactured 1996
RCP2 chair in the V&A permanent collection

Waste not, want not

Every year, 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced globally, and less than 10% of it is recycled. The problem is not the material, but the linear production model and the lack of cost-efficient waste management systems. At Smile Plastics, we want to see an end to single-use plastic, and the global adoption of a circular ecosystem in which all our existing plastic can be infinitely recycled and ‘waste’, as we know it, ceases to exist.

Kaleido 12mm Max Lamb Chair. Ocean Waste by A Potato Head Studios