Brighton-based sustainable design studio Gomi has created a portable speaker using flexible plastic waste that is normally not recyclable by local councils in the UK.
Each Gomi speaker is like a work of art featuring a brick-shape body formed from colourful marble-ised plastic in beautiful colours. The equivalent of 100 plastic bags in non-recyclable – or flexible – plastic go into making the body of each speaker.
The studio won £10,000 from the Environment Now Programme to kickstart the project in January 2018, with further funding from the Santander Big Ideas Competition in June 2018. Their aim was to introduce consumer electronic products made from waste materials that would have otherwise been destined for landfill.
Plastic waste makes up 85% of the pollution on our beaches around the world, and every year the UK alone throws away 300 million kilos of flexible plastics. Flexible plastic (LDPE) consists of plastic bags, bubble wrap and pallet wrap, which are all not accepted by UK councils for recycling.
Gomi was co-founded by Tom Meades, Sustainable Designer and Maker based in Brighton. Tom told us, “We were inspired by the cradle-to-cradle design process, thinking about our products full life cycle 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.”
The speaker is made from three modular marbled-plastic components, and is made using a combination of traditional craft techniques and digital fabrication. The speakers are hand-marbled, which means that every product has its own individual aesthetic.
Gomi aims to have free repairs for their products and a free returning for recycling. The products are designed to be modular, so they can be separated easily, and the plastic components can easily be melted into new components for future products – without losing any material value.
Gomi crowdfunded through the Kickstarter platform on 26th February 2019 and were able to release their first drop of product online in March 2019 – all sold out. Their second drop in November, available in time for Christmas is already three quarter way sold out.
“Our components are made from 100% non-recyclable plastic. We have worked with audio professionals and electronics engineers over the past twelve 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 Tom Meades.
Awards / Exhibitions: Materials Exhibition, Somerset House, 2017 – 02 Think Big Awards – Funding, 2018 – Santander Ideas Competition, 2nd Prize, March 2018.