Young Brno architects turning plastic waste from cafes into furniture

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Three young architects in Brno have established a business based on recycling plastic waste from nearby cafes. Discarded plastic cups, pet bottles and food containers are transformed into tables, shelves or trays for take-away coffee that find their way back to the cafe they came from.

Photo: Ivana Puškarová, Czech Radio

Matyáš Růžička who owns a cafe frequented by young people on the outskirts of Brno meticulously sorts the plastic waste that has accumulated over the past week. Instead of throwing it into the nearest plastic waste container he packs it into plastic bags, ready to be picked up by one of the trio of young architects who are running an environmentally friendly business on the piles of discarded plastic waste around town.

“We really have a huge amount of plastic waste every week and we like the idea that instead of throwing it out we get part of it back as a brand new object - in the form of a table, stool or trays for take-away coffee. We get people from nearby firms coming in to buy coffee for themselves and their colleagues –and they find these trays very useful.“

Photo: Ivana Puškarová, Czech Radio

The waste is sorted once again by the architects themselves before being ground into plastic pellets. Several hours later Štěpán Macek pours the pellets into a mould.

“Here I want to make a table top, so I spread the ground plastic pellets into a mould and even them out. After that it will be ready to go into the furnace which is being heated.”

The bright orange table designed for the Růžička café is made from four kilos of plastic waste and the whole procedure takes about two hours. Right now the team of young architects is cooperating with three Brno coffee houses from which they regularly collect plastic waste, but they plan to take on bigger challenges in the near future. Ondřej Venclík – another member of the trio – outlines their future plans.

“We started out with furniture and small useful items for the cafes we work with but, in time, we plan on doing whole interiors, doors and even roofs. It depends on how fast we can set ourselves up to work with big moulds, larger format items will actually be easier to work with.”

Their plans to create bigger and better things out of discarded plastic waste are not just wishful thinking. Last year the trio made headlines by producing two cosy tourist huts made entirely from discarded plastics in order to support the development of a circular economy. They are planning to install them in the Vysočina Highlands for tourists this autumn.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Ivana Puškarová
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