London-based designers Rowan Minkley and Robert Nicoll use waste potato peelings to create an eco-friendly alternative to single-use materials like MDF and chipboard, called Chip[s] Board.
Shocked by the environmental impact and short lifespan of many readily disposable materials, Minkley and Nicoll set out to develop a material that, if thrown out in the same way, wouldn’t have the same negative environmental impact.
The name Chip[s] Board is a play on the fried potato treat and the material chip board. The new material is biodegradable post-use and, unlike MDF, doesn’t contain formaldehyde or other toxic resins and chemicals.
While MDF is a useful material, it is also damaging to the environment, with the UK furniture sector currently disposing of or incinerating 140,000 tonnes of MDF per year, due to its inability to be recycled.
The designers believe that the circular economy should be the starting point when designing any new products and materials.
They wanted to combine this issue of material waste with the problem of food waste, which sees a third of all food produced ending up in the bin. The result is a sustainable wood substitute made from the waste potato peelings created from industrial food processing.
The invention saw Minkley recently announced as the UK’s “most promising young engineering entrepreneur” by the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub, as part of its annual Launchpad Competition, which aims to encourage more young people to start their own engineering businesses.
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