We already were at a good point. We have had the idea for our ecoBirdy project, a concept for the design. Our business plan was written and we even had started to collect some unused plastic toys in our neighbourhood.
What we needed to do was to find a partner, a recycling firm who could help us to go one step further: Recycle the plastic of toys. Sounds easy? It was not. The way we spent most of our time was to research: reading a lot of papers, visiting companies and recycle fairs all over Europe. Once we had contacts we started to write an infinite number of emails. And the result was: a lot of Nos. Nobody seemed to be able to recycle the plastic of toys.
Or is it just not affordable? Why? What was the problem? Why was it so hard to find somebody who does recycle plastic toys? The reason is that plastic toys are made out of various elements and a lot of different types of plastic. To be recycled the plastic has to be clean and pure and the mix of plastic in toys makes it difficult and therefore highly expensive to sort it out. For many recycling firms it is a process that is not cost-effective for their business. Producing new, virgin plastic is currently less costly than purchasing recycled materials on back-end channels.
We did not give up and went on searching. On one of the many recycle fairs we have travelled to, we found the company that finally seemed to have the facilities to recycle the plastic of toys. After long initial negotiations we have found a way to collaborate with them for our ecoBirdy project.
It is Van Werven, a Dutch company, working with a process for the recycling whereby they sort, clean and grind plastics in order to meet the strict quality standards for giving these plastic pieces a new life. At the very beginning of the recycling process, they do a lot of hand sorting combining a selection by man and by machines. This is what makes it possible for them to recycle the plastic of toys so that we can give them a new life as a clean and safe high quality product. A new life as ecoBirdy’s furniture.
Designed for kids, it creates them their first own little spaces and also raises awareness from an early age about sustainability. This has been quite a journey, but it was all worth it.