• 28/10/2022
  • 10

How recycling design is shaping product design trends

Many designers are working with plastic to other materials, essentially recycling them to create sustainable designs that are produced keeping in mind our environment and planet. Everyone within the design sector is chasing the next sustainable material that will change how the design industry interacts with product design. This trend of recycling waste, working with seaweed to mushrooms and stones – everything is helping to shape how product design trends are being shaped.

Designers are focused on turning every stone to combat climate change with their recycle and repurposing design concepts. Some of these may still be work-in-progress – even so, they are essential steps towards focusing on recycling existing materials and making new designs from them. Offering materials like plastic and glass a second life. This is a cultural shift and design is most likely to play a key role in transforming how we approach product design.

Also interesting to read: Trends shaping the future of automotive design

Here is how design is helping to shape better habits that encompass the overarching theme of recycling:

– Suggesting new 

Central to the discipline of design is how they can influence behavioral change. This often means adapting and adopting new material or giving existing material a second life. Each time a designer designs and creates something unique, disruptive, and innovative – he/she is essentially shaping the way we will also interact with the product and how we will view it.

– Building value towards circular materials

Many projects are now focused on building with materials that offer a circularity and have sustainable possibilities. The goal of transforming volumes of discarded waste into aesthetic materials is one of the key priorities of designers today. The belief here is that design materials can become ambassadors of the value of conscious product choices.

Also interesting to read: Apple Electric car project: What to expect from its design

– Encouraging young and independent designers to lead

Young designers have been strong drivers of this circularity.
These are independent designers who are joining forces with engineers and many different start-ups, together producing materials that are redefining product design. Many of these materials are now derived from processing of mixed waste that has not been recovered through industrial or public recycling systems.

– Building a culture of eco-conscious and biomaterials

Materials have changed enormously over the past few decades. From singular plastic to bioplastic and circular materials for product design, there has been a conscious shift in the design community and global brands production. The term bio refers to renewable rather than fossil-based sources. Design has the power to change material consumptions towards biodegradable and compostable materials. Companies like Crafting Plastics! (based in Berlin and Bratislava) are focused on designing bioplastics for the production of durable goods. They have developed Nuatan, a patented new -generation plastic that is based on 100% of renewable raw materials and entirely biodegradable. They use this to build high value-added products.

Let’s look at some materials that are being recycled:


This is one material that has offered the planet a big crisis and design is helping to tackle the same. While we are all aware, so is the design community, that they alone won’t be able to solve the entire issue, but they are sure helping to find possible solutions to tackle the problem at hand. Many designers are partnering with engineers, scientists, and other professionals to spearhead innovative projects that offer us eco-conscious materials, products and encourage us to adopt new attitudes towards our daily consumption habits.

A large number of independent designers, engineers, brands, start-ups and organizations are committed to make sure plastic waste is fully utilized in the recycling process. One fine example is a not-for-profit brand based in India called Basic Shit that makes use of plastic waste to make public use toilets.

Also interesting to read: How to deal with feedback as a product designer


Glass is known to be sustainable from its origin to its end. From the process of making it, it contributes to emissions which can be counteracted by extending the life of glass. Glass is one material that is infinitely recyclable. The glass used in electronic items is one of the largest amounts of glass waste known to us. To address these issues, a Norwegian architectural design office called Snohetta have collaborated with a Brussels-based Studio Plastique to conduct research and explore the various possibilities of recycling as well as utilizing glass from electronic waste.

Common Sands: A design project that is focused on recycling glass waste that is produced from thrown away consumer electronics. Common Sands turns them into beautiful tiles.

Used coffee-grounds

A few designers have built an innovative product using existing material waste – used coffee grounds. The consumption of coffee is in billions across the globe and used coffee grounds are finally put to an amazing use. Kreis Cup – its a coffee cup and is a sustainable, eco-friendly and durable one that is designed to enhance your coffee-drinking experience.

This product design is a reusable cup that is made from used coffee grounds and plant-based materials – entirely free of petroleum-based plastic. The cup is heat resistant and is designed keeping in mind you need your coffee hot for longer. The cup is also biodegradable unlike the other alternatives and can easily disintegrate into soil leaving nothing behind. What’s more amazing for coffee lovers is that it comes with a faint smell of coffee.

Also interesting to read: The myths of UX design

Food & Fiber waste

Another key waste production happens in the sector of food. Millions of dollars’ worth of food waste is produced almost every day. Here is an alternative to leather – Kudarat – a production of Divya Verma from National Institute of Design in India. Kudarat is a fabric alternative that is built on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN and is based on the concepts of circularity and sustainability.

Kudarat is synthesized using algae, food and fiber waste and is offered as a leather alternative. It resembles animal leather but the most noteworthy aspect of it is that it is cruelty-free, waterproof, antimicrobial, and offers a great tensile strength which makes it perfect for practical applications and uses. Another unique feature is how it is dyed using natural colours that are derived from food and flower waste.

There are several examples we can bring to the table but the core concept to understand is how design itself is able to influence and change behaviors at a global scale. With the need of the hour being more sustainably produced and designed products that keep in mind the future, product designers are making use of smarter plastics that last longer and are designed for the future. Keeping in mind aesthetics and end-of-life situations. While we may still be in the early stages of these behavioral changes, these attempts are bringing the cultural change needed to limit the social and environmental impact of irresponsible materials produced and consumed. Indeed, recycling is shaping and influencing a large amount of how product designers interact with their designs.

Also interesting to read:  5 trends in visual design and advertisement you must know

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