Helping the environment with portable speakers made from non-recyclable plastic waste

Gomi, a sustainable design studio based in Brighton, is looking after the environment by making a portable speaker made from flexible plastic waste that is normally not recyclable by local councils in the UK.

Plastic waste is currently one of the biggest issues in the UK with school children going on strike last month, taking to the streets to call for action against climate change and environmental issues. The UK throws away 300 million kilos of flexible plastics every year and 85 per cent of the pollution on beaches around the world is made of plastic waste. Plastic bags, bubble wrap and pallet wrap are classed as flexible plastics (LDPE) which are not accepted by UK councils for recycling. 

Recognising this as a major issue, Tom Meades, sustainable designer and maker in Brighton, co-founded Gomi to introduce consumer electronic products made from waste materials that are otherwise destined for landfill. 

Gomi SpeakerThe Environment Now Programme kickstarted the project in January 2018 giving the company £10,000. Further funding has been received from the Santander Big Ideas Competition in June 2018. 

Gomi has now made its first product, a portable speaker made from three modular marbled-plastic components and it is made using a combination of traditional craft techniques and digital fabrication. 

You would be forgiven for thinking the speakers might look unsightly but the unique, hand-marbled design gives the speaker a highly attractive, individual feel. Each speaker is made up of flexible plastics equating to 100 plastic bags. 

Keeping in with the recyclable theme, the company aims to offer free repairs for their products and free returns for recycling. The modular design allows the products to be easily separated and the plastic components can be melted into new components for future products without losing any material value. 

Gomi has just begun crowdfunding on Kickstarter and already has 56 backers. The ultimate goal is to raise £45,000 to expand the scale of the project. 

Alongside the release of the speaker, Gomi will also be releasing a portable power bank for smartphones made from the same waste materials. 

Gomi SpeakerCo-founder, Tom Meades commented: “We were inspired by the cradle-to-cradle design process, thinking about our product’s full-lifecycle right from the beginning of our design process. With our Bluetooth speakers, we want to intercept a waste stream that would otherwise be landfilled or incinerated. Flexible plastics / LDPE is widely regarded as non-recyclable by UK councils, and so we thought this would be the perfect material to harness and show that through innovative design this can be valuable and does not have to end up as waste polluting our environment. Instead, we can craft this material into desirable objects.

“Our components are made from 100 per cent non-recyclable plastic. We have worked with audio professionals and electronics engineers over the past 12 months to ensure the product is not only aesthetically desirable, but also sounds great. We have also paired up with major food wholesalers in Sussex, who have vast amounts of this specific plastic waste. We are also accepting plastic waste from households and local stores, which is where we can have an interesting mix of colours between the waste streams.

“We are currently looking at new ways we can increase our storage capacity, and scale-up our production process to intercept more waste, and we hope to use the Kickstarter funds to achieve this,” adds Meades.

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