Reimagined Recycling is a Pittsburgh-based program and creative studio that collects #4 and #5 plastics for shredding and repurposing into new products, including home and design goods. Established and operated by Ashley McFarland, this non-profit organization processes and reuses materials that would otherwise be excluded from mainstream recycling programs and destined for the landfill.
With Green Leap, Ashley is experimenting with larger products suited for the built environment, like floating shelving. Ashley is actively solving for best practices for recycling, processing, and remanufacturing of #4 and #5 plastics, including improving studio ventilation and molds used for new products like shelving (shown below). With support from the organization’s advisory board and peers from Monmade’s artisan producer network, Reimagined Recycling is poised to offer distinctly sustainable products to the design and development community.
“Our first goal is to educate people to view plastic as a material to be re-used and repurposed into functional, high-quality products. We are aiming to accomplish this by creating objects that are held in higher regard and will live in a home for generations, making the public part of the recycling and recrafting process, and making our process transparent and accessible. This will help people envision a new life for their yogurt containers.”
– Ashley McFarland
Since producing Reimagined Recycling’s shelving prototypes, Ashley has been improving this product’s overall design and functionality. She is also simultaneously working with Brian Ferrell Designs on a collaborative lighting product. The pendant design intends to marry Reimagined Recycling’s colorfully pressed plastic sheets with artist Brian Ferrell’s contemporary wood forms.
Monmade is excited to debut these sustainable products alongside additional ideas for using Reimagined Recycling recycled content at our premiere Green Leap design industry event this April. Our collective hope is that with time and further refinement, Reimagined Recycling will also be able to readily supply larger sheets of pressed plastics material to the design community for incorporation into their custom solutions, like furniture and room dividers.
Through our assessment of its studio and processes, Reimagined Recycling achieves four of Monmade’s six dimensions of sustainability: environment, climate, human health, and social equity.
Woman-led and operated non-profit organization
Operating in a facility that serves as a combination creative studio, collection point, and recycling center located in Larimer, a low-income neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA. Continuous environmentally responsible improvements are being considered and implemented once they have the funding
Providing plastic reduction education through community support, events, and activities to reduce and reuse. As a solution provider for recycling difficult-to-collect #4 and #5 plastics, Reimagined Recycling sorts, melts, and repurposes raw recycled materials into useful goods for a second life
Utilizing a multi-step recycling process, ensuring little-to-no material waste by 1.) collecting, cleaning, and sorting containers for re-use or donation to another, responsible organization, 2.) shredding re-usable material in bits, organized by type and color, 3.) creating new useful forms and shapes (e.g., home goods and products for the built environment) by melting the plastic safely to a temperature that does not release any toxins into the air
Educating communities on responsible recycling practices and repurposing materials into functional, high-quality products. Creating products for the built environment will engage communities in the recycling/recrafting process and ensure transparency and accessibility in their operations
Engaging volunteers, who are encouraged to visit the space and engage in the recycling process
Learn more about Monmade’s holistic approach to sustainability.
Monmade’s holistic approach to sustainability is described by our Dimensions of Sustainability. Rooted in our team’s knowledge of responsible manufacturing processes for small businesses, our six defined dimensions inform our assessments of artisan producers and their products. Our producers and their products achieve a dimension when they meet one or more of that dimension’s defined criteria.
Using sustainable materials including recycled, reclaimed, or bio-based materials, prioritizing sustainable vendors and local sourcing, minimizing environmental impact of facility and/or manufacturing waste, publicizing sustainability practices, planning for responsible growth
Manufacturing at and/or within 100 miles of primary business location, using renewable energy sources, reducing energy consumption, reducing water consumption, measuring carbon footprint, seeking reduction of use of non-renewable resources
Products contributing to safe indoor and/or outdoor air quality, using low-to-zero VOC adhesives/sealants/finishes/paints, products comply with specific industry standards including UL and ADA, providing adequate safety and personal protection equipment for employees, safely using/storing/disposing of materials and/or finishes, using and/or encouraging green cleaning methods for products, recommending responsible installation and/or maintenance of products
Business is women and/or minority owned, workforce is more than 50% women and/or minorities, located in an LMI area, hiring local workforce, contributing portion of profits to charitable organizations, practicing public stewardship, offering employee benefits, providing wage transparency
Designing products for zero-impact, reuse, and the elimination of waste throughout the entire life-cycle of the product. A circular system often includes (but not limited to) using sustainable materials (e.g. bio-based, reclaimed), safe and efficient manufacturing, durability, using sustainable packaging materials, and a plan for end-of-life
Indicates when producers/products/ product components are independently certified/verified for their environmental attribute claims by a third-party organization; certifications/ verifications can be for single attribute claims such as FSC or multiple attribute claims such as EPD, HPD, and life-cycle analysis