Putting a smile on your waste
We design sustainable materials made from “waste” plastics collected from a variety of post-consumer and post-industrial sources. We believe that our reimagined, recycled materials match any new ones that you’ll find in terms of quality and style. Each panel is entirely crafted by hand and has its own unique identity.
who we are
We’re a micro-factory based on the southwest coast of Wales, UK, and trusted by well-known brands, architects, and designers worldwide to deliver materials for their projects.
We take waste plastics and other materials traditionally classed as waste and transform them through our unique processes into large-scale, solid surface panels.
We tend to focus on single-use plastic packaging and other materials that would usually find their way to landfill. We chose these plastics to disrupt the unsustainable industrial ecosystems that have become the norm whereby finite and useful materials have very short, single lives.
A company with a circular history
Smile Plastics enjoys a long history dating back to the early 90’s. After two decades of recycling plastics, the first Smile Plastics closed as the founder retired, leaving designers and architects struggling to find sustainable materials with great quality and design.
But in every end, there is a new beginning. So, having spent a decade developing circular design solutions for waste, award-winning design partners Adam Fairweather and Rosalie McMillan re-established Smile Plastics in 2015, focusing on new technology and industrial ecosystems, evolving its design and growing the product range.
Today, Smile Plastics continues to be a global leader in making superior-quality materials from waste for design cognoscenti.
Recycling should up-value, not down-value
Our mission is to create next-gen circular economy materials to encourage us to value our resources and waste less. To do this, we reimagine end-of-life materials into products that tell a story that resonates with people. We pride ourselves in making some of the highest quality and striking decorative panel materials around – 100% recycled, but also 100% recyclable (so they can be reused over and over again).
Inspired by “waste” plastic
Inspiration usually comes from the materials themselves. We start by exploring discarded plastics to understand their intrinsic value and their potential to be used again. First, we test for quality, colours, textures, patterns, etc., in combination with other waste materials. Next, we go about turning them into the finished product, which is the reimagining that’s at the heart of the Smile Plastics design process. We include distinct traces of the plastics’ origins in their new life to create a narrative around the materials. This takes shape as flecks of foil from the original yoghurt pot lids or text and barcodes from plastic packaging.
It’s not just about the aesthetic; testing is key to delivering peak quality so people can cherish our materials for a long time.
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?
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.
Materials that connect the dots and tell a story
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.