Energy & Environment
Smile Plastics - Doing Good Things Globally by Unlocking the hidden beauty of recycled waste
A Welsh company is opening people’s eyes to the unexpected beauty of scrap – and developing an impressive portfolio of clients that already includes Stella McCartney, Christian Dior, Selfridges, Liberty, and KPMG.
Design team Adam Fairweather and Rosalie McMillan run Smile Plastics from the beautiful Gower Peninsula, creating exquisite, hand-crafted, decorative panels entirely from recycled plastic and other waste streams.
Beautiful artisanal objects with an ethical narrative from one of the loveliest parts of Wales. Their classic lines are supplemented by a limited editions and bespoke materials service, as well as a custom design and build service.
Smile Plastics was launched in 2015, based on work that began in the early ‘90s. Their innovative creations use art and technology to unlock the hidden potential in recycling, delighting both residential and commercial customers with their beaty, and inspiring many around the world, including architects and designers, with their stories of sustainability.
The Smile Plastics process starts out by experimenting with different waste streams, colours and patterns before trialling production on a larger scale. The company is always testing and working with different waste streams such as coffee grounds, paper, and textiles waste. Some products take many years to perfect. For example, the coffee material used in their Sanremo Verde project is part of a much larger coffee recycling project which started in 2002. Their Yogurt material is created from recycled yogurt pots among its raw materials.
Whilst innovation with waste streams has become more commonplace, Smile Plastics’ ability to create a scalable material and product that can be moulded and adapted in so many different ways is still rare.
The company is an interesting combination of talents. Adam is an industrial designer, with over a decade of experience making panels out of waste materials like coffee grounds and plastics, while Rosalie’s experience lies in jewellery design and psychology. Rosalie has been a finalist for an Observer Ethical Award for sustainable style for her sustainable jewellery line, focusing on recycled materials.
Adam and Rosalie are also involved in closed-loop consulting – creating awareness in organisations of the recycling possibilities of their waste streams, and coming up with creative solutions for reusing and recycling the waste, sometimes as new panel materials.
At the heart of Smile Plastics is making inspirational materials that are beautiful in their own right, but, once their history and narrative are revealed, can engage people in a positive conversation about the value of waste.