Tom Meades is breaking the rules of recycling. He’s the inventor of the world’s first portable charger made from non-recyclable waste. In the United Kingdom, where Meades lives and works, over one billion kilograms of plastic is thrown out annually. Colourful plastics and those contaminated by food are not favoured by recycling plants, as they’re difficult to turn into clear pellets. Instead, they’re dumped in landfills where any potential for sorting and re-using is lost. Disturbed but inspired, Meades got to work ideating a stylish solution that’s challenging traditional methods.
“The material that we use is classed as non-recyclable in the UK,” Meades says. “All the big recyclers panic and think, ‘We can’t do anything with it because it’s not perfect.’” But a little colour goes a long way to make something stand out. When it comes to crafting their portable chargers, Meades and his team at Gomi become artists. From malleable melted plastic, they pull and swirl brilliant hues and press them into moulds. “We can use those materials and treat it like an oil painting,” he says. Reclaimed battery cells are used to power the chargers, giving them an extremely powerful reserve to draw from. With each product, a marbled and functional masterpiece is made.
“Design has a massive influence over sustainability,” Meades says. If he had followed the regulations, his kaleidoscopic ideas would never have been realised, and more plastic and batteries would continue to choke the planet. Sometimes, you’ve got to be a rebel to do the right thing.