Two bottles of Spill Spirits

8 April 2021

Upcycling everything from water bottles to barley straw, brands seek paths to circularity 

As interest in circular economies continues to grow, we keep coming across new examples of upcycling. While rarely truly circular, upcycling is definitely a step towards better use of resources. Five creative ways of repurposing waste materials that recently caught our attention:


1. Fjällräven creates a capsule collection out of leftover fabrics

Fabric production is one of the most resource intensive elements of manufacturing clothing. Launched on March 1st, Samlaren — Swedish for Gatherer — is a limited-edition series of jackets, backpacks and accessories made out of unused fabric stock. Classic Fjällräven designs are given a playful twist by mixing colors and fabrics. Christiane Dolva, Head of Sustainability, explains that the ultimate goal is for the company to become so efficient in its processes that it won't create any leftover material, rendering Samlaren obsolete.


2. KLM turns in-flight water bottles into plastic for 3D printing by its maintenance crew

With tons of identical PET bottles served on flights, KLM has a clean and homogenous plastic waste stream to work with. Their 3D printing project first launched in 2019, and we’re happy to see it's still going strong: check out this recent video to see how plastic goes from bottles to pellets to filament, which engineering and maintenance teams then print into parts and tools.


3. Corona uses brewing by-product to create packaging material

On World Recycling Day, Corona introduced new packaging for its six-packs, made of barley straw and 100% recycled wood fiber. Barley is one of the beer's main ingredients, but only grains are used for brewing. Turning barley straw into paper fiber uses 90% less water than virgin wood, as well as less energy and fewer chemicals. The new packaging is being piloted in Colombia with Argentina to follow, ahead of a possible global launch.


4. Gotland Spirits distills supermarket leftovers into vodka and liqueurs

Made from 100% recycled food, Spill Spirits is a spin-off of Gotland Spirits AB that launched late last year. The small distillery makes vodka, coffee liqueur and limoncello using bread, cereal, pasta and coffee waste that local Coop supermarkets and bakeries would otherwise throw out. (In California, Misadventure Vodka started making spirits out of excess baked goods back in 2017.)


5. Ford and HP team up to transform 3D printing waste into auto parts

Ford, which employs HP's 3D printing technology, is using spent 3D printed powders and parts to manufacture injection-molded fuel-line clips for its Super Duty F-250 trucks. To provide Ford with additional source material, HP also collects and recycles manufacturing waste from SmileDirectClub, which operates the largest facility of HP 3D printing systems in the US.

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