5 innovative products made from recycled materials

The need for recycling has never been greater.  It is estimated that 91% of plastic alone is not recycled[1] meaning this and other recyclable materials end up in our landfills, oceans and environments.  The good news is; many governments are now implementing programs to encourage recycling including Container Deposit Schemes and Bottle Bills. Recycling plastic, cans, bottles and paper has become a given in many households and statistics show that container deposit schemes are dramatically increase recycling results. To read more visit: https://www.containerdepositsystems.com.au/articles/container-deposit-schemes-globally

In addition to container deposit schemes there is increased investment from both government and private industry to drive recycling innovation and advanced manufacturing which utilises recycled materials.  Innovative technologies results in the ability to create new and creative products from recycled materials.

Container Deposit Systems (CDS) has compiled a list of some the most innovative and interesting recycled products:

1.       Clothes (and fabrics) made from plastic

Did you know currently majority of clothes and fabrics contain plastic?[2]  Whilst clothes may not seem innovative, the use of recycled material in clothes is. Synthetic polyester, one of the most common fibres used in clothing manufacturing, is made primarily from thermoplastic; meaning it is essentially a form of plastic.  Polyester is a category of polymers that contain the ester functional group in their main chain. As a specific material, it most commonly refers to a type called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyester first appeared in 1951, manufactured by the American chemical company DuPont.[3]

Since a vast percentage of clothing already contains plastic, it should be no surprise that clothes made from recycled plastics are becoming more commonplace. [4]  The first clothing made from recycled PET bottles hit the shelves in the USA in 1993.[5] Since this time, recycling innovations and technologies have dramatically increased, resulting in a massive uptake of recycled PET clothing. This trend is so extreme that polyester has taken over cotton as the number 1 fibre used worldwide and this trend is forecast to continue to increase. 

polyester growth.png

So, if your clothes are not made out of recycled plastic now, they soon will be!

2.       Roof tiles made from recycled nappies

An innovative recycling initiative is currently taking place in the UK with used nappies and absorbent hygiene products being recycled into roof shingles / tiles.[6]  Currently, it is estimated that each infant will soil up to six thousand nappies resulting in approximately 20million nappies in the US alone annually. These nappies end up in landfills across the globe and can take hundreds of years to degrade.[7]

In 2013, Canadian company Knowaste began the first pilot program for recycled nappy roof tiles in Scotland.[8] The company embarked on a hugely successful but short-lived trial run where residents brought in their used nappies and health products for recycling which were then cleaned, shredded, pulped, and separated into recycled cardboard fibre and plastic pellets to be used for park benches, railway sleepers, road signage, roof tiles, recycling bins, and many other products.

The process includes collecting and sterilising used nappies and Allied Health Products (AHP), separating the components, and creating new products from the absorbent polymers, organic matter, and plastics.

Nappy roof tile process.jpg

The successful trial encouraged other major companies to follow suit.  In 2015 Italian company Fater (a joint venture of P&G and Gruppo Angelini) upgraded its recycling facility to include nappy recycling capabilities to create higher value materials such as fertilizers and bio plastics.[9]

The positive results mean we could be soon seeing more innovations made from nappies and AHP’s.

3.       Concrete aggregates from recycled plastic 

Concrete, the most common building material used in the world, has been relatively unchanged for thousands of years. In 1824 the first patent was award for what we know today as ‘modern concrete’ which utilises Portland Cement.[10]  However, for the past 10 years, eco-conscious innovators have been experimenting with recycled plastic (Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and Polypropylene) aggregates[11] to form a lighter, more flexible, eco-friendly version of traditional concrete. Traditional aggregates are made from sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag and sometime recycled concrete and are the most mined materials in the world.[12]

Recent testing of new plastic aggregates has been phenomenal. Local South Australian company Seels Technology has created a new product TOBERITE which is the first of its kind to build an entire concrete product range utilising a patented designed polypropylene aggregate.  This technology has been trialled with major companies including BHP and Adelaide Brighton and early testing prove both the product and environmental benefits of recycled plastic in concrete. 

With new innovations in recycled plastics, PET and Polypropylene aggregates could soon become the norm in the world’s largest construction material.

4.       Daily appliances from recycled cans and materials

It’s true that appliances just ‘ain’t made like they use to be!’ Appliances are increasingly utilising cheaper materials as product technologies develop as an exponential rate. This results in products being out of date in 12months – 3years, requiring consumers to make ongoing new product purchases.  To reduce waste and reduce carbon footprints; major companies are now investing in technologies to create appliances from recycled materials such as aluminium cans.[13]

An example of this is Panasonic who launched a range of products from Recycled Materials. The products are made with recycled resources and produced in Japan. The recycled source series of products includes a refrigerator, a rice cooker, a washer/dryer and a vacuum cleaner, which incorporate recycled resin and vacuum insulation made from recycled glass.[14]

Companies like Panasonic are paving the way for increased use of recycled materials in daily life.

5.       Bikes created from aluminium cans

Riding your bike into work can have more environmental benefits than just reduced emissions. There is an increasing trend to produce bikes from 100% recycled aluminium; particularly aluminium cans. [15] The trend is gaining momentum with consumers; however, the cost of recycled bikes is still much more expensive than traditional bikes. [16]

Despite the price tag, entrepreneurs are persisting with creating high performance bikes from 100% recycled aluminium for the cycling community. Companies such as Turn Bikes and ReCycle are leading the way in developing both new technologies and creating market demand.

In addition to aluminium bikes, wooden bikes are also being concepted. Designer Dan Gestoso Rivers has released concepts at: https://www.behance.net/gallery/14996659/Boske-Wooden-Bike


Whilst many of the recycled product innovations mentioned are still undergoing technical and concept testing, it is clear to see the trend of companies seeking to implement recycled materials into daily products.  Recycling technology and improvements of container deposit schemes and facilities is vital to ensure to continued growth of new products and innovations.  CDSA is dedicated to driving new recycling technologies to support a wider use of recycled products in everyday items.


Do you know any innovative or interesting products made from recycled materials? If yes, please let us know!


About Container Deposit Systems (CDS)

CDS was formed with a vision to oversee the implementation of improved operational practices in recycling facilities.  The company offers a range of services to recycling depot facilities to drive productivity improvements and transition traditional recycling facilities into modern technically advanced operators.

CDS achieve this through patented technologies which deliver manufacturing automation to auto-sort materials via a highly sensitive multi-sensor integration.  Systems integrations enable facilities to further gain efficiencies through workflows, materials handling, logistic processes, facility layout and design, customer interaction and data acquisition and management. 

CDS technologies are designed and manufactured in Australia with local partners Sage Automation and Macweld Engineering.



[1] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/
[2] http://www.textileworld.com/textile-world/fiber-world/2015/02/man-made-fibers-continue-to-grow/
[3] https://qz.com/414223/if-your-clothes-arent-already-made-out-of-plastic-they-will-be/
[4] https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/recycled-plastic-10-cool-products/ http://time.com/money/4489474/recycled-plastic-bottles-new-products/
[5] https://qz.com/414223/if-your-clothes-arent-already-made-out-of-plastic-they-will-be/
[6] https://www.citymetric.com/skylines/9-building-materials-made-entirely-waste-products-932
[7] https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/sep/06/billions-dirty-nappies-diapers-recycled-pet-litter-insulation-compost-waste-landfill
[8] http://www.knowaste.com/news-and-events/nappy-days-scotland
[9] https://waste-management-world.com/a/dirty-diaper-recycling-project-brings-nappies-into-the-circular-economy
[10] http://www.concretethinker.com/detail/History-Portland-Cement.aspx
[11] https://www.citymetric.com/skylines/9-building-materials-made-entirely-waste-products-932
[12] https://www.nssga.org/
[13] http://www.maine.gov/dep/waste/recycle/whatrecyclablesbecome.html
[14] http://news.panasonic.com/global/press/data/en111214-6/en111214-6.html
[15] https://www.cnet.com/news/recycle-bicycles-made-from-all-recycled-aluminum/
[16] https://cleantechnica.com/2012/12/20/recycle-bikes-bicycles-made-from-all-recycled-aluminum/