In 2015, designers Reinder Bakker and Hester van Dijk from Overtreders W and architect Peter van Assche from Bureau SLA stumbled across a shipping container overflowing with household plastic waste. They immediately saw potential in this waste and began thinking about how they could transform it into a functional and attractive building material. How can you turn an old shampoo bottle or washing powder tub into a valuable product? It turns out the answer lies in state-of-the-art building tiles…
The first cladding material made from 100% recycled material
They pitched their idea to several plastic manufacturers in the Netherlands, but they were turned down each time. Confident that their project would succeed, they eventually set up their factory, the Pretty Plastic Plant, complete with a range of tailor-made machinery. After that, all they needed to do was produce their tiles! Their vision soon became a reality, and in 2017, their first tiles were used to cover the People’s Pavilion, a temporary auditorium designed for Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. Rather than household plastic waste, these tiles were made from PVC waste from the construction field. The waste was collected from Dutch building sites and was then sorted and shredded into 5-millimetre-wide pieces. Once processed, they served as the raw material for the 9,000 grey diamond-shaped tiles that cover the building. Windproof, watertight and resistant to fire and extreme weather conditions, they combine all the qualities of PVC and adhere to the highest technical standards. These tiles prove that it’s possible to transform waste into something truly beautiful.
The People’s Pavilion project was so successful that the team decided to market their innovative cladding on a larger scale. “Aside from bio-based materials, there are virtually no other 100% sustainable cladding materials,” added van Assche. “Pretty Plastic is, to our knowledge, the first cladding material made from 100% recycled plastic waste.”
A new kind of tile: originality meets circularity
Pretty Plastic’s tiles are now available in two shapes, named First One and Second High. They’re similar to traditional clay or timber cladding systems. Completely fireproof, they can be installed on any structure. Each tile is unique, with distinct textures and shades based on the recycled materials they’re made from. They’re also easy to install (a saw, some screws and an underlying wooden structure are all you need) and long-lasting, thanks to the durable properties of recycled PVC. They’re fully recyclable after use, making this a truly circular product. Pretty Plastic’s tagline, “from waste to resource”, is undeniably fitting! Producing Pretty Plastic cladding for a small house requires 5,000 kg of PVC waste from the construction industry — waste which would otherwise have been sent to landfill or incinerated. The new tiles have a lifespan of 50 years, though they can be dismantled and reused or recycled (up to 7 times) and transformed into new Pretty Plastic tiles. A full circle!