Products of Change


Thu 30 Mar 2023 | by Rob Hutchins

Brunel University London and Biffa partner on ReBorn recycled homeware range

Plastic throw-away items such as pots, tubs, and trays will be making a return to the kitchen as a new recycled homeware range called ReBorn. A collaborative effort between Brunel University London, Biffa, and Henley Marketing and backed by UK Research and Innovation, ReBorn will see food-grade plastics once destined for landfill revived as ‘low-carbon’ washing up bowls, dishracks, and drainers. The range has been developed in an attempt to tackle the issues arising from the use of synthetic polymers and plastics imported from Asia in the production of nearly of the UK’s homeware items. Each year, the UK consumer throws out an average of 70 million homeware items, counter-productive to the country’s net zero targets. The ReBorn range will be found on the shelves of John Lewis by this Autumn. “ReBorn promises to markedly reduce the number of virgin plastics the UK imports, and importantly, help promote a circular plastics economy,” said Brunel University London’s Dr George Fern, who also leads the Wolfson Centre for Sustainable Materials Development and Processing. “This closed loop approach will sizeably shrink the carbon footprint of the large UK homewares industry, and in doing so, help the UK reach its net zero carbon goals.” UK households’ recyclable waste plastics will be collected by High-Wycombe-based materials management company, Biffa and made at a plant in Redcar iinto high-quality recycled polypropylene (PP) to form the ReBorn range. Chemical engineers at Brunel University London in Uxbridge will test the recycled plastic’s properties. They will check it’s safe for home use, durable, long-lasting, and crucially, recyclable The Brunel team will also track the lifecycle of the process to investigate the benefits of using recycled plastics from a carbon emissions and resources consumption perspective. This will be a comparative analysis with conventional virgin plastic import-reliant homeware products manufacture. Phil Goodier, managing director of Biffa Polymers, said: “As we strive to create more circular processes in the UK’s waste sector, it’s crucial for participants across the value chain to see the value in utilising good quality PP recyclate and designing products with the end-of-life perspective in mind. “We are excited to see the potential of ReBorn’s novel approach to utilising recycled PP plastic for more sustainable outlets. It would be great to see food grade PP one day attaining the same closed loop circularity as post-consumer HDPE and PET plastics. Meanwhile, it’s great to know our material is being used for such a sustainable and impactful purpose.”