From landfill to laptop bag

How many plastic bottles does it take to make a laptop sleeve? This is a question we answered in the development of our new My Office range of tech accessories.

We realised that there is a gap in the market for sustainable, high-design tech accessories and set about creating something that is sleek, functional and good looking.

In looking for materials all arrows pointed to the East but we were adamant about using local materials so we approached a Cape Town recycling plant for assistance in sourcing suitable recycled materials. They were intrigued by our ideas and so it happened that we ended up working with them to conceptualise a material that looks and feels just like felt, but is made from recycled plastic chips. Felt works really well as a protective fibre, making it ideal for safeguarding your laptop and tablet.
It took more than four months to get the material ready. It takes lots of time, patience and energy to create something from scratch. And then there are questions around whether the new material will work as anticipated in its new form and will the market respond to the product as we hope?!

The material-making process involves taking polyethylene terephthalate (PET) chips from plastic bottles and turning it into a polyester fibre, similar to felt.

Apart from keeping plastic bottles out of landfills and the ocean, the recycling of plastic also helps to create job opportunities as a source of income for the informal collectors.

For us this process has really served to emphasise that alternative, sustainable textile production is possible and that we don’t always have to rely on expensive, carbon intense, fabrics from other countries.

Finding and developing alternative, environmentally conscious fabrics has always been a key interest of ours, and one of the reasons we established The Joinery in the first place.

What’s more, the market reaction has been fantastic. People really value a sustainable product, especially one that has an interesting story to it. The range has found a niche in the corporate gifting market and can easily be customised for clients.

Plans are in place to extend this tech range so watch this space! We have also conceptualised fabrics to make garments from.

And the answer is five. It takes five plastic bottles to make one laptop sleeve! That’s minus five plastic bottles in our landfills.

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