What is the right thing to do with your old iron, radio, and kettle? They can’t go in your recyclables and taking them to the dump is a hassle. Perfectly sized for the household bin, this is where most of them end up. Valuable and finite resources getting lost to landfill.
This project looks at the end of life of electrical products and aims to make the most of the material that they embody. Our response was to design three toasters, each demonstrating different strategies to designing out waste:
The Optimist – where the material value and longevity of the object becomes so clear it will last for generations. The Pragmatist – a strong consumer-manufacturer relationship establishes repair and makes this object last 9 times longer. The Realist – a mass produced product, designed for recapture through existing recycling systems and rapid disassembly.
The Optimist Toaster.
No route to repair and a disproportionate effort to recycle means 88% of small electrical items end up in the bin.
Those products that do get recycled end up somewhere similar to this, an electronic waste processing facility outside London. This image shows approximately 1 week of electrical waste from London. While much better than landfill, the processing at these plants often results in poor quality reprocessed materials.
The story of The Optimist Toaster. An all aluminium toaster designed to last. If it ever reaches a point where it is no longer usable it can simply be melted down to start a new life as something new.
Growing old gracefully. A product that is honest and proud of the processes that have created it.
55,613 slices and still going strong. Part of the beauty of an older object is knowing the details of its past.
Your toaster's date of birth cast into the back of the handle.
Toaster elements do not last forever, so we designed the repair process to be as simple as possible with 4 bolts and clip in elements.
Made in the UK. Cast locally in an industrial foundry.
Raw casting from the foundry.
The story of The Pragmatist Toaster.
The Pragmatist. Where the manufacturer takes control of the whole product lifecycle.
Modular Slots. Each toasting slot is wired in parallel so if a slot breaks it can be taken out and the rest of the slots carry on functioning.
Easy to return. The slots are designed to fit through a letterbox to piggyback existing return infrastructure.
Designed for disassembly. The toaster was always designed with return in mind so comes apart as quickly as possible.
Pop Apart. Our vacuum disassembly technology (patent pending) pops the housing apart.
Once separated the manufacturer can manage the material in the most environmentally sound way.
A toaster with 9 lives. The polymer life cycles are communicated to the user through the number of lives their toaster has left.
The Realist. The archetype £5 toaster, re-designed to recapture the material value as cheaply and easily as possible.
Our patent pending vacuum fixing allows mass disassembly, removing labour costs and making resource capture profitable.
Existing infrastructure. By piggybacking current infrastructure we remove the obstacle of capturing end of life products.
Testing the vacuum disassembly fixing.
Separation and disassembly can be done on mass, as demonstrated with current recycling infrastructures for lower value recyclables.
The making of. The development of the concepts and technologies used in the toasters.
The design out waste research journey.