Cardbond aims to create a circular material.
The material consists of discarded cardboard and Cassava starch sourced locally around Dalston's Ridley road market, a predominantly Caribbean and Jamaican market. Cassava or Yam is a high yield starchy tuberous root that needs little water and no pesticides to cultivate, this makes it a good candidate for bioplastics and biofuels around the world as well as being central to the diet of subtropical countries. The outcome resulted in an economically viable, low energy and low resource consumption material. Which has a range of scalable applications in homeware, packaging, hospitality and agriculture.
The project was born from a frustration with the failure of plastic recycling and a radical approach to seeing the future eradication of the material. Recycling is an industry worth millions, the project aims to reimagine a closed-loop system where no material is discarded and all is recycled. In Western society very little waste is recycled, therefore tonnes of plastic going to landfill, polluting soil and oceans and posing a threat to wildlife.
In the project, compostability is seen as the ultimate recycling process, where the material is part of a closed-loop system, eventually going back to the ground. After a series of experiments creating DIY bioplastics using cornstarch, the attention shifted towards composite materials. Cardbond was developed during the first lockdown, it is composed of materials sourced locally and the only workshop available was a household kitchen. The latter resulted in a material that needs little energy and processes to be produced. The absence of workshops and therefore the inability to physically test the application of the material, gave space to speculate in-depth on possible applications.
Having the consistency of wood, Cardbond can be used to build furniture due to its structural properties as well as waterproofed vessels for vases, plant pots or bowls. The waterproofing was informed by extensive research on biocompatible materials and the most successful, in regards to price, provenance and effectiveness, was a rosin-based pitch. The pitch, used to waterproof wooden boats, consists of rosin, a byproduct of turpentine, with added powdered clay and natural earth pigments.
The material is currently being tested as a substitute for rock wool in hydroponic systems and as a vehicle for plant rooting in collaboration with Greenlab in London. The colouring of the Cardbond and the rosin pitch was informed by extensive research on natural pigments and is still a work in progress.
The making process consists in mulching the cardboard in water, blending it and then mixing it with pre-cooked cassava glue. The mixture obtains a clay-like quality and can therefore be moulded using the slab-building technique. The material is placed evenly on a flat surface and dried to a malleable point. Once the slab is malleable the surface can be cut and shaped in different fashions. The waterproofing consists in melting the rosin pitch over a hob, adding clay powder and a drop of vegetable oil. The rosin pitch is then applied by pouring and using a heat gun to even it out the material consistency.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Cardboard wasre, cassava starch, iron oxide, rosin, clay, vegetable oil, natural earth pigments
Afra Zamara for the set