British startup The Tyre Collective has ventured into producing products made from microplastic particles that come off car tyres. These particles are a significant source of microplastic pollution, both on land and in the sea. The group, which was awarded the UK national James Dyson Award in 2020 for its car-mounted tyre-wear capturing device, collaborated with various partners to create objects such as jewellery, a lamp, and a battery.
According to The Tyre Collective, tyres on Europe’s roads produce over a million tonnes of synthetic rubber particulate annually. To address this issue, the group worked with designers, scientists, and a sustainable 3D-printing company to explore potential applications for the material.
Madrid-based company Lowpoly mixed the rubber particles with recycled PLA to create objects such as a vase, speaker, lamp, and acoustic panel. The dark grey finish of these objects has a lustrous and faintly translucent appearance. The material can also be recycled.
Jewellery designer Qiang Li used the tyre-wear rubber mixed with resin and recycled sterling silver to create rings. The rubber particles are suspended in the clear resin, resembling inclusions within gemstones. Li also crafted a sculptural brooch that represents a single tyre particle, surrounded by stones that reflect the elements within it.
Working with London-based designer Rafael El Baz, The Tyre Collective explored different material compositions by mixing the rubber particles with materials like resin and jesmonite. El Baz used a semi-translucent, rubber-flecked resin to make the base of a mushroom table lamp.
In addition to decorative designs, The Tyre Collective collaborated with the Queen Mary University of London Materials for Sustainability Group to create functional applications. Led by green-energy lecturer Maria Crespo, the research group made a coin battery using carbonised rubber particles coated on a copper foil.
The collaborations were funded by the Terra Carta Design Lab, a competition launched by King Charles III and former Apple designer Jony Ive to support climate crisis solutions.
Simultaneously, The Tyre Collective continues to develop its car-mounted tyre-wear capture device, which uses static electricity to suck in the rubber particles emitted during driving.
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