Post Paper Studio
Most companies are now switching from plastic packaging to paper ones, increasing the amount of paper and cardboard waste generated.
Currently, the only way to recycle paper is through the large-scale recycling system, which relies on centralised facilities and industrial plants, often abroad. What if instead, we created a system of many local manufacturers that turn people’s waste into goods for those very same people? A system where trash from our cities stays inside our cities? Ultimately, how can we enable paper recycling to happen closer to where paper is wasted?
Post Paper Studio aims to be a low-tech alternative, which upcycles paper waste at a local level. It consists of a series of recipes, tools and experiments to enable designers, makers, craftsmen and small businesses to transform paper waste from their own communities and use it in place of conventional materials.
A collection of recipes and how-tos illustrate the many ways in which paper waste can be transformed into pulp and combined with natural binders to improve its material properties and create paper composites that can be used in any desired setting. The recipes use different types of paper and cardboard, commonly found in any household or office, highlighting there different properties, values and downsides. The goal is to create an open data collection of recipes and guidelines, available to anyone willing to start recycling paper on a local scale.
A range of tools have been created such as a modular system able to press the paper pulp and create sheets, bricks or other basic shapes that can become the building blocks of new objects or furniture pieces. The structure—available online for free—can be downloaded, customised and made out of wood or recycled plastic with the help of a local maker space or wood workshop. The tools don’t require any glue or screws and are easy to assemble and disassemble. Moreover, the system can be upgraded using add-on moulds to create more complex designs—like boxes, trays, cups or bowls.
Experiments — The experiments explore how to use the resulting paper composites together with digital fabrication tools, CNC milling, laser cutting or 3D printing and traditional craft techniques such as woodworking, engraving or weaving. Trying out some of these unusual combinations is a way to display the project’s potential and inspire others to adopt and contribute to this work.
With this experimental approach, those types of paper currently discarded by mainstream recycling systems, such as like greasy cardboard or receipts, can also be recycled. By making sure that each recipe only requires natural binding agents (like starches, alginate, resins and gums—that can be sourced locally according to what is most available in the area), the resulting composites can easily go back into recycling or be composted.
The goal is to create an urban self-sufficient ecosystem of community workshops dedicated to paper recycling at a neighbourhood scale. This is why designers and makers are actually encouraged to change, hack and improve all the content according to their needs, their geographical area and their local community. Overall, the open source and low-tech nature of the project wants to turn the recycling practice from centralised and exclusive, to distributed and accessible, sparking a conversation around the efficiency of the current recycling system.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Paper, cardboard, receipts, wheat flour, rice flour, rice paste, agar agar, corn starch
128-1, 128-2, 128-3, 128-4
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab