When I first started designing Squijit I had lots of ideas about colours and textures and general product ‘look’. During the many meetings with the design team, I would ask questions like ‘Can I have a lovely big swirl across the middle of the Squijit clamp?’ or ‘What about this design, can it look like this?’.
I didn’t realise at the time that there’s a lot more to designing an environmentally friendly product than first meets the eye.
Fortunately the Squijit design team had a vast amount of experience in recycling techniques and materials and they knew a thing or two about creating an environmentally responsible and well thought out product. Apparently the key factor to recyclability is to NOT use any ‘mixed materials’.
That you had to really think about mixing different materials in designing a new product had never really occurred to me!
Environmental sustainability and business don’t always go hand in hand. Some of the most common household items aren’t recyclable because they contain ‘mixed materials’. Think take away coffee cups, crisp packets, toothpaste tubes; all contain mixed materials!
The main problem seems to be that a lot of manufacturing companies focus on two priorities: the product ‘look’ and how much the the design will cost. For some, environmental sustainability is a third, less important concern.
Products that contain several layers of different materials aren’t recyclable. Take the humble screwdriver. Lots of them have beautiful, ergonomically designed handles with soft silicone handles to provide a more comfortable grip and hard robust metals and plastics for strength and function.
However these types of mixed material products are just the worst of the worst when it comes to recycling. There are very few waste plants that have the money, machinery or resources to physically separate all these different components so that they can be individually recycled. Also developing machinery or processes to recycle materials like this are often not cost effective as the market for the separated material is just not big enough to make it worthwhile!
This is why we have kept the Squijit clamp simple in design with individual components that can be easily separated. In this way, it can be easily washed and maintained properly and then quickly and easily recycled at the end of its life!