Recycle Paper into Pencils

Here is an idea for an in-house paper recycling tool. Known as the P&P Office Waste Paper Processor (they could probably work on finding a catchier name), this compact design concept is intended to turn used office paper into a product that is always useful around the office: a pencil. Now all those worthless memos and letters can be put to good use again instead of just crowding your desk.

The act of turning an already processed material or product into a completely new product of better quality or a improved environmental value is refereed to as upcycling. For all intents and purposes, it is a form of recycling, but the distinction of upcycling is the emphasis on the improved quality from initial to final product. Turning tires into rubber mulch for playgrounds or melting varies types of plastic into one blend are easy examples of downcycling because the final products are of lesser longer term quality or value.

The internal functions of the paper to pencil device are kept under raps. While recycled paper composes the largest quantity of material used by the device, graphite, glue, and electricity would also need to be supplied for the pencils to be made.

TreeHugger via YankoDesign

Recycled Newspaper Wood

The ethical arguments that motivate recycling and material reuse are really quite simple: to reduce our raw material consumption and our impact on the natural environment we need to reuse and recycle as much as possible. Naturally, this is much easier said than done. Even given a community that is producing recyclable waste and given a large enough population that is willing to pay for the waste to be recycled rather than land-filled, there is still the very relevant issue of finding a use for all the reprocessed material. Glass is not really an issue. Glass can be melted down and reused an infinite number of times without any loss in material quality (and at a lower energy demand than was required to turn sand into glass). Metal has to be meticulously separated (nickel with nickel, steel with steel, etc), but metal too can easily be reused. Plastics are a whole other story, but we wont go into that. Paper can be easily processed, but the ink cannot be removed from the reprocessed paper pulp. Therefore, office paper cannot be turned back into office paper. The great dilemma then becomes finding a good, energy efficient use for the enormous quantity of recyclable paper that is being produced and disposed of all the time.

One Dutch designer, Mieke Meijer, has addressed this issue with the creation of Newspaper Wood, an alternative building material that, just as the name suggests, is made from recycled newspapers. Called Kranthout (that’s newspaper in Dutch), the product has been developed for the design company vij5. To produce this unique type of building material, the individual pages of a newspaper are rolled together by a machine and outputted in the form of magazine sized newspaper “logs”. These “logs” are then milled into newspaper “planks.” Perhaps you have noticed that once the newspaper has been processed by the specially engineered machine, it is basically treated as real wood. The newspaper “planks” are even drilled and sanded as needed. The way that the newspaper has been pressed together even gives the resulting wood the illusion of having grains, even if the lines are colored and sprinkled with text.

This new building material is still in the design faze. The creators of Kranthout are improving on the manufacturing process as well as developing products in which the newspaper wood can be used. The thought of a desk made entirely out of newspaper immediately pops into my mind. Naturally, the wood will not have enough tensile strength for any load bearing application, but simple things like fences or the detailing of a house seem like a very reasonable application. Mostly importantly, the abundance and cheap supply of newspaper means that Kranthout could someday be very widely available. This truly is an innovative re-purposing of recycled materials. The designers have even made sure that the glue used to form the wood can be dissolved if needed, meaning that the newspaper wood can again be recycled once it has reached the end of its life.

Mieke Meijer’s kranthout was presented as part of the Rematerializing the Future (as shown in the images below). The exhibition was put on by Material Sense as part of Dutch Design Week.

Source: World Changing