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Design students win 2019 PVC Redesigned competition

05 July 2019
handing a cheque and award to LSBU winner

LSBU design students won 1st and 2nd prize in the national VinylPlus UK, IOM3 and MaDE 2019 “PVC Redesigned” competition

The seemingly simple challenge was to design a concept that uses existing PVC materials and make it part of the circular economy.

Overall winner (£3000 prize money) was Karen Silva of LSBU, for ‘Yuna’ portable water filtration and storage device. Second place (£1500) was awarded to Kristen Tapping (also LSBU) for her ‘Tectum’ water collection roof system and third place was awarded to Helene Benz’s RCA team ‘Nari menstrual cup sanitiser’.

The competition is part of the British Plastics Federation’s VinylPlus UK project ‘Designing in a Circular Economy with PVC’. As recycling is well-established within the PVC sector, the aim was to engage designers to showcase innovative concepts for the sustainable reuse of PVC. This involved various applications of the material, both rigid and flexible, industrial and consumer.  The Circular Economy aims to redefine the conventional 'make, sell and discard' model through innovation and careful design to reuse materials for a second life. Circular Economy goes well beyond conventional recycling and requires novel thinking and careful design to minimise material waste and maximise circularity.

Yuna was conceived primarily for members of poorest communities in third world countries that do not have access to clean water and that must walk long distances every day to reach a source of water that most of the time is not safe to drink. It provides ergonomic carrying as well as a water-filtering compartment and a tap to control the clean water flows. To address this challenge, Karen looked at the property of the PVC pipes. Water circulation, durability and the variety in parts were key characteristics of PVC. At first, Karen considered providing an ergonomic way to carry water with freedom in movement. A second idea was to purify the water in transit with a simple system and with local sources materials. Eventually she settled on an easy and ergonomic way to get access to the clean water after filtration. Yuna was lauded by the judges as “an excellent concept well explained that clearly solves a social need”.

Silver prize, Tectum, is a prefabricated PVC roofing and rain catching system designed to efficiently store and reuse rainwater – the judges were particularly impressed with the “limited rework and level of detail” shown in the design.

Kristen reflected: “My immediate thought was to use PVC piping as solar water heating pipes in developing countries but figured that might need some come of energy and be really complicated. Instead I made the idea a bit simpler and thought of making affordable roofs for low income housing.” Cutting pipes length-ways to create half-moons, they act as a low cost alternative to half-round clay roof tiles. In order to make the cost more affordable the tiles would be pre-fabricated and pre-assembled onto a 1x1m PVC slab (melted from PVC pipes) which could then be installed directly onto the roof reducing installation time. In the end the idea is simple, affordable, and can be coloured to match customer preference.

Matt Davies, Senior Industrial Issues Executive at the British Plastics Federation, stated: “Recycling is a strong part of the PVC industry, with nearly 740,000 tonnes of the material recycled in 2018 in Europe. These novel reuse applications offer an exciting new avenue for the material, complimenting recycling efforts whilst addressing key sustainable development goals.”

The finalists were presented their awards and prize money at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining on 29 May 2019.

Find out more information on the winning designs.
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