Functional Upcycling


In Europe, we currently waste over 500 kilograms per person every year. And to make this worse, 60% of that waste ends up being landfilled or incinerated. Every year, Europe landfills and burns over €5 billion worth of recyclable materials.  However, recycling rates throughout Europe vary: the Flanders region of Belgium recycles around 75% of its municipal waste, while Austria recycles 70% and Germany 66%. In contrast, some countries still recycle less than 10%. It is anticipated that in these recycling figures, down-cycling is prevalent, meaning that material quality is deteriorated and not maintained. For example clothes are recycled into insulation material used in cars but not for use as clothing again. There is a loss of functional quality and eventually the textile fibres will be incinerated or land-filled.

Design concepts for interior car design were developed in the framework of envisioning workshops for a European car manufacturer. They show scenarios in which recycled plastics are applied. Material quality is upgraded, with the aim of a circular material cascade in which materials are designed to be used again and again with a similar or improved functionality.

Applying recycled material in cars informs us that recycled material is acceptable as high performance quality for our everyday products. We can trust it to take us places. Visually the speckled colours and design stand out among the rest, enabling further aesthetic enhancement of car interiors.

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