Smile Plastics – Plastic ‘waste’ circularly reimagined

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Smile Plastics to discuss its inspiring journey, which has sprawled over the past 30 years. It was an excellent opportunity to celebrate the company’s remarkable achievements and learn more about its innovative approach to plastic waste.

Smile Plastics produces 100% recycled and recyclable plastic panels for use in commercial interior design schemes. Seeking to change people's perceptions around what ‘waste’ meant, original founders Colin Williamson and Jane Atfield were pioneers in their field.

Williamson and Atfield conducted experiments with various streams of plastic ‘waste’ to explore their potential for being recycled into sheet materials. At one point, this even included Barbie dolls, “We've actually got a sheet of that in our archives”, commented Lotte Barron, New Business Development Manager for Smile Plastics. “This spurred their creative journey in exploring the different kinds of aesthetics they could create from there.

Williamson led the way in showcasing the design potential of recycled plastic for almost two decades until his retirement in 2010. In 2015, trailblazing duo Adam Fairweather and Rosalie McMillan revived the then-dormant Smile Plastics brand, employing new processing techniques and low-energy manufacturing technology for high-volume production via a nonstop batch process.

Smiles Plastics’ entire production process considers sustainability throughout, beginning with carefully selected materials from vetted suppliers that undergo thorough quality checks. The materials are then manually mixed, resulting in a combination that is both durable and aesthetically strong, requiring no post-production, and suitable for a variety of applications – from table, kitchen and desktops to partitioning, seating and retail displays – to name a few.

We believe that plastic is a great material, it's just the waste streams around it that are broken,” continues Lotte. Smile Plastics transforms would-be waste into high-quality, beautiful surface materials to be cherished for years to come. Should they come to their end-of-life, though, Smile Plastics offers a buy-back scheme for pre-loved products and material offcuts. It will even purchase the material back after fabrication if a client chooses to work with an external fabricator. “If your customers ever need to change their office fit out in the future, we will work with you to buy the material back from them”, explains Lotte.

Smile Plastics uses the leftover material for reuse in new projects as part of the brand’s circular economy principles.

We are excited to explore the possibility of repurposing plastic waste from our construction sites to give them a new life with Smile Plastics for use in future projects. By adopting this type of conscious practice, we aim to foster a sustainable cycle that aligns with our values and contributes towards building a greener future for all.

The imagery featured within this article has been supplied by Smile Plastics.