Plastic is an important theme with which we’ve all – as individuals and professionals – been forced to deal. But it’s not a black and white issue of using less or no plastic at all. It’s a complex system of how we produce and design in the first place. While plastic poses a threat to our climate, it also holds a potential: Plastic is when used responsibly, the solution to more of the challenges we’re facing – from transport to food waste.
At Milford, we take our responsibility seriously, and we strive to optimise our production so that it leaves us more equipped to take on the challenges of tomorrow’s world. Therefore, we only use plastic when it’s the better choice and make sure that nothing goes to waste – neither in the production phase nor after the product’s life-time.
The environmental impacts of a product are by 80 % determined in the early phases of the design. When trying to make a product more sustainable, it isn’t necessarily enough to choose a different material, i.e. exchange regular plastic with bio-plastic. In addition, each product needs a design that allows us to repurpose all parts. And this is one of the biggest challenges in reaching a working recycling system: Mixed materials. When a product consists of more materials, it becomes more challenging to sort and therefore recycle the parts. Usually, you would have to choose between plastic and metal, thus winding up with wasted material.
In our process towards a better, more sustainable production, we work closely with Letbek Plastic – a company that up- and recycles plastics, eliminating the valuable material from our streams of waste. But they do more than produce the plastic – they play a vital role in designing the product so that it’s best suited for recycling afterwards, ensuring the full lifecycle perspective on every design.
“By looking at the design with a holistic view of the entire product lifecycle – the material source, the production process, the end-of-life process – we’ve been able to improve the sustainability of each of these steps and overall, of the entire product,” says Mark Walton, Operations at Milford.
When the adjustable console for our Canyon threshold channel was first designed, the adjustment mechanism was designed using a combination of plastic and metal parts.
But through the collaboration with Letbek, we altered the design and eliminated metal, so that the console is made entirely of plastic. That way, once the threshold channel is no longer in use, all of it can easily be recycled. By streamlining the design, so that everything is made from plastic, we keep the strength of the original concept while ensuring efficient handling when the product’s lifetime ends.
With the design in place, the foundation for recycling is in place. But for Canyon, it doesn’t end here. Because the recyclable plastic is in itself recycled. Cleaned, crushed and processed, Canyon is made from raw material derived from old beer crates that could no longer be used.
That way, nothing goes to waste in Canyon: The design is sustainably produced from start to finish. At Milford, we also offer handling of the used products. So when a Milford product is no longer in use, we process and up-cycle it and turn it into new products that make our cities more liveable.
“By looking at the design with a holistic view of the entire product lifecycle, we’ve been able to improve the sustainability of each of these steps and overall, of the entire product”