Why we make our products
At Remix Plastic we make beautiful jewellery, but unlike most of the jewellery you buy our pieces are not just designed to be worn a few times then replaced with something new next season. Our pieces are made from local plastic waste diverted from landfill and are embedded with the concepts of kaitiakitanga and circular economy. Each piece carries a sustainability story and makes them a tangible way to engage people in sustainability.
How is Kaitiakitanga and circular economy embedded in our works?
Kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection) is a way of managing the environment, based on the Māori world view that people are closely connected to the land and nature. We are not separate from the natural world and our actions have an immediate impact on it. Our dependence on single-use plastics has caused an unprecedented level of plastic pollution in our environment, damaging ecosystems and injuring wildlife. For Remix Plastic kaitiakitanga means that we only ever use recycled plastic as our source material. No matter how popular our products become we will never make them with virgin PLA.
Not only are our products made from waste, we design them to produce as little waste as possible. This aligns with our goals of fostering a circular economy by designing out waste and pollution and keeping products and materials in use as much as possible.
What are our pieces made from?
Many of our accessories are made from 3D printer waste PLA (Polylactic Acid). Because PLA is a bioplastic made from plants, its production has a lower carbon footprint than traditional petroleum-based plastics and it is technically commercially compostable. But unfortunately PLA isn’t accepted by any composting facilities in New Zealand which means that the waste just becomes more plastic rubbish.
Initially the PLA waste we used for products came only from the Production Studio of Christchurch’s central library, Tūranga. But as demand for our products has grown, we have started sourcing from other institutions such as universities and libraries around the country.
How are they made?
We take 3D printer waste and chip it up. We only chip one colour at a time but inevitably there are rogue colours that get in the mix which need to be picked out.
The plastic chips are laid out on a reusable silicone sheet and a sheet press is used to melt the plastic** into sheets which are left to cool. Then for my favourite part - using the laser cutter! The sheets are arranged on the laser cutter and the design files loaded up, then I press go and the items are cut!
Once the sheets are cut, we pop out the product and where we can, put the left overs back into the pile to be chipped and re-melted to be made into another beautiful piece. We have recycled some batches up to 7 times.
Then we finish the products and attach the fixings. The pieces are secured to recycled cardboard for display and when we send them out to their new homes, we wrap them in salvaged paper/tissue paper and package them in recycled cardboard boxes.
How you can use your jewellery to tell a story
Whenever you wear jewellery from Remix Plastic you have an opportunity to share the story behind the piece. If someone compliments your earrings you can mention that they are NZ-made from recycled plastic and be sure in the knowledge that they are as light on the environment as possible.
Want to know more?
PLA compostability: For more information on this complicated subject, see our resource at One Planet.
Check out our Circular Economy resource section
** Please note that melting plastic can release hazardous fumes and should not be carried out at home without adequate Health and Safety equipment. See our blog on this topic for more information.