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From trash to treasure

The potential of recycling goes far beyond consumer products with many new buildings now made almost entirely of repurposed packaging and materials
The potential of recycling goes far beyond consumer products with many new buildings now made almost entirely of repurposed packaging and materials

Waste. It’s become one of the biggest issues of our time with people all over the world thinking more and more about where products and materials finally end up. Because whether it’s a plastic bag, an old cell phone or a beer bottle, the everyday things we throw away can all have a negative impact on the environment.

In this eco-conscious era, recycling is now a top priority for both consumers and companies. In fact, many businesses and organisations are repurposing materials in bold and creative ways – using recyclable products in ambitious building projects that make a positive impact for people and communities, and also boost their sustainability credentials.

After all, what better way to highlight the potential of recycled waste than by using it to create sustainable places where we can live and work.

Waste not, want not

In South Korea, the Naju Art Museum has creatively repurposed 1,500 semi-transparent plastic baskets to form a striking building façade. Made of a lightweight and flexible plastic, the baskets diffuse harsh light entering the building to create an ecological and efficient sun barrier – all while supporting the museum’s artistic reputation.

Image © Starbucks

Since opening its first store made out of old shipping containers, coffee-company Starbucks now has 45 similar concept stores around the States. Its debut container drive-thru in Tukwila, Washington is built out of four shipping containers and has been designed to LEED certification standards, so it not only uses reclaimed materials but saves energy and water.

Taking ‘99-bottles-of-beer-on-the-wall’ to the next level, Buddhist monks in Thailand built the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple out of 1.5 million beer bottles. What started as a simple litter clearing exercise became a province-wide, two-year long initiative where people donated bottles to form the glittering structure of one of the world’ most unique temples.

Launching the world’s trashiest hotel might seem an unusual ambition but this is precisely what happened when the Corona Save the Beach Hotel opened its doors. This pop-up three-room hotel in Rome was built out of 12 tons of rubbish found on European beaches and was designed to highlight the growing problem of ocean waste. Construction materials included everything from cans to car parts with star-studded guests including supermodel Helena Christensen.

From carton to canteen

Inspired by the potential of recycling, SIG teamed up with several organisations in Thailand to create an innovative school ‘eco-canteen’. Made from more than 1.4 million used carton packs, the canteen recently opened at the Nikomsangtoneang primary school near SIG’s production site in Rayong. The roof and walls were made out of aluminium and polymers collected from SIG packs, while even the tables and chairs were produced from recycled cartons.

“The eco-canteen is a great way to bring recycling to life by showing children – and their parents – what happens to the cartons after they drink their milk,” says Chatramon Intason, school director at Nikomsangtoneang Rayong 10 school. “Helping children understand how recycling can help the environment is really important because they are the consumers of tomorrow.”

SIG’s eco-canteen showcases the potential of recycled packaging, and is a testament to how companies and communities can work together to turn waste into value.

Want to know more about SIG’s recycling potential? Contact us now or read more about our WAY BEYOND GOOD. And to ensure you stay ahead of the big issues shaping your business, subscribe to the SIGnals Update for a rundown of our latest news and stories.