Turning trash into treasure
Here at Fairphone, we’re very aware that our company is a bit of a paradox: it is our business to expose the flaws of the very industry we are a part of. This means that while we always strive to be fairer, greener, better, there’s no escaping the fact that we are also a part of the problem.
This organizational paradox is what has inspired our latest collaboration: meet vanPlestik, a 3D printing company based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Like Fairphone, they are a small company thinking – and operating – outside the box. We’re all doing our best to cut down on plastic consumption, and vanPlestik is approaching the problem from another angle: local, cost-effective, plastic reuse and recycling.
Take a look behind the scenes of our collaboration with vanPlestik.
One of our main goals at Fairphone is to investigate and improve recycling methods. Our unique modular design already allows for a more efficient recycling process (not to mention ease of repair, reuse and repurposing). Our packaging is biodegradable, and we engage in multiple projects related to the circular economy. But there’s been something bothering us lately: 3,700 plastic slim cases that we had gathered for recycling. Obviously, we are huge advocates of “traditional” recycling and encourage everyone to participate in our phone recycling program, but we also want to think about different aspects of reuse, about the continuing value of the materials in our phones.
This is where vanPlestik entered the picture. They use plastic waste as raw material for their 3D printers, turning would-be-waste into high-quality objects such as furniture and custom parts for local businesses. They are the perfect allies to give new life to our phone covers, which totaled 73kg of plastic. vanPlestik used their 3D printing techniques to create furniture for us to use in our office and at events – some pretty unusual conversation starters! You can see the process from the first designs to the finished 3D-prints in the video above.
From 73kg of plastic waste to 3D printed furniture – The transformation is complete.
Our recycling goals are about more than just plastic, of course. E-waste is a massive, global problem, and one way we can tackle it is by using all the materials in our phones for as long as possible. For Fairphone and vanPlestik, acknowledging our limitations as smaller enterprises works in our favor: by taking advantage of our pioneering roles within the industry, we are driven to find creative solutions that will inspire wider change. Thank you for granting us that space, with your support and personal motivation to see a fairer future. Continuing to work, think, and solve together can get us there, step by step.
Do you own one of the 1.6 billion unused phones shoved into the far corners of drawers and closets? These forgotten mobile phones are packed with valuable materials that can be used again and again: