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Recycled plastic and ocean waste: the raw materials crafting 'green' furniture, glassware and textiles

In the hands of the finest artisans and craftsmen, the rubbish is turned into remarkably tactile and delicate homeware, tiles and furniture

A cassette tape lost on a beach 25 years ago was hauled out of the sea and made playable again by the University of Plymouth for an art exhibition, which amazingly, the original owner of the tape visited.

It is a frightening illustration of the indestructibility of plastic in our oceans, “and the constant threat to the marine environment”, says Professor Richard Thompson, head of the international marine litter research station at the university.

The window at Tottenham Court Road’s iconic homeware store Heal’s in W1 is festooned with fishing nets, and displaying is the super-slim Ocean chair by Mater of Denmark.

This is a revamp of a Fifties model by the renowned design duo Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel, originally in wood and steel, now with flexible slats of recycled marine plastic, for £234. It’s part of a new edit at Heal’s called Recycled, Remade.

“We are showing waste as today’s raw materials crafted into quality designs,” says Hamish Mansbridge, Heal’s chief executive. “We’ve included designs from PET bottles — hence the huge stash in the window — along with recycled glass and textiles, as well as ocean plastic.”

The beautiful Canopy collection, including closed gardens and vases made from recycled glass by LSA International, was developed with the Eden Project for “hydration and propagation”. Prices from £20 to £39.

Friends of the Earth waste campaigner Tony Bosworth, says: “All companies should ditch throwaway plastic and make long-lasting products that can be easily reused or recycled at the end of their life.”

'It must be beautiful as well as ethical'

Heal’s has fabrics and rugs by Danish Ferm Living. “We have a strong design history in Denmark and sustainability is our priority,” says Ferm’s creative director, Trine Andersen. “Our new fabrics and rugs will take back into use around 270,000 plastic bottles a year.”

Danish brands have good recycling track records. Kvadrat is making boards for furniture and construction from textile waste under the brand name Really, and a beautiful upholstery cloth called Re-Wool using scraps from UK yarn spinners.

Lind DNA uses surplus leather from making furniture, bags and shoes, pressed together with natural rubber for tableware, mats and furniture.

Fritz Hansen is using recycled plastic for a curvy new chair in seven colours by Japanese designer Oki Sato, founder/director of the design office Nendo.

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