The project offers four key areas of impact, each increasing as and when the manufacturing and commercial activity develops over time: design/creativity, economic, environmental and social.
Firstly, the project will deliver design/creativity impacts. The functional and aesthetic properties of the new material, combined with the opportunity to increase scales of production, offers artists, designers craft-makers and architects, significant opportunity for creative development and expression. The potential of the material spans the spectrum of creative activity from one-off sculptural forms, design-led bespoke items, to high volume, mass-produced products; providing a new 'aesthetic vocabulary' for existing exterior and interior architectural applications such as tiling, cladding, counter surfaces etc.
Exploiting the creative potential of the new material, would in turn would deliver economic impacts through sales of products and employment. The Research Team expects to be in a position to start trading by the end of the grant. If proven successful, the longer-term objective would be to expand production within the UK.
The direct benefits to the UK economy are in anticipated employment, revenue generation and tax receipts. In the short to medium term (years one and two) the pilot plant will create between three and six manufacturing jobs along with between two and four sales and marketing jobs within the UK. In the longer term, increasing production capacity would further increase employment opportunities.
Thirdly, the project offers significant environmental impact through stakeholders in the following industries and fields:
* The CRT and post-consumer glass recycling industries;
* The ceramic & glass industries;
* Waste management and disposal;
* Sustainable building materials industry;
Government agencies including the Environment Agency, WRAP and DEFRA.
The project anticipates direct benefits to the UK environment and in the longer term wider global environment in four ways; by diverting both hazardous and non-hazardous waste from landfill; by reducing reliance on finite virgin building materials; by reducing global transportation of raw materials and finally by reducing the transport of hazardous waste to developing countries.
A distinct and potentially important impact will be the development a novel method for the safe re-use of CRT funnel glass. Disposal of CRT glass represents a considerable global problem. Without new applications for CRT much of this hazardous glass currently stockpiled around the UK would need to be disposed of in specialist landfill.
The social impacts of the project will initially be realised through project partners Recycling Lives. The pilot plant workforce will be drawn from RL's corporate social responsibility initiative, which currently employs vulnerable and marginalised individuals on predominately unskilled jobs within the recycling industry. Working alongside the Research Team, setting up and running pilot manufacturing plant will give the workforce, manufacturing experience and skills that are transferrable to the wider ceramic, stone and tile industry. If the pilot plant proves successful, the Research Team envisage a larger manufacturing plant could be established, involving a larger workforce, further increasing the economic and social impacts.
With the ultimate aim being to exploit the technology in other territories, where the same wastes are available and similar environmental and legislative concerns are important, the project could generate potentially significant global economic, environmental and social impacts.
Impacts disseminated through non-academic channels will be in the form of company press releases and targeted marketing of the products attributes via design and architectural journals and magazines, as well as through trade fairs and exhibitions.
This project builds on a previous AHRC funded project: 'The Aesthetic of Waste' - an investigation of the creative & commercial potential of kiln cast re-cycled mineral waste (Binns, 2008).
The primary aim of the project is: 'Through a 'design-led' approach, further exploit the creative and commercial potential of 'high value' Eco-material, developed within the previous AHRC funded award'.
The original research, with its roots in craft practice, involved developing a process for converting glass, ceramic and mineral waste into a functional, aesthetic, high-value Eco-material. The innovative material offers architects and designers a cladding and surface product imbued with a unique aesthetic, possessing significant sustainable properties.
The kiln casting process converts 'low value' waste into a 'high value' product, made from 97-100% recycled waste, without any cementatious or synthetic polymers, used in many existing 'green' composite products. The process utilizes locally sourced waste, thus avoiding excessive transportation of raw materials. All manufacturing waste can be re-introduced into the input stream (Zero Waste, Closed Loop Manufacturing) and can be recycled at end of life (Cradle to Cradle Design Paradigm, End of Life Manufacturing).
Whilst the Research Team developed a number of prototype samples, demonstrating a wide range of aesthetic qualities, the resources available within the existing research facility limited the creative scope of the research.
This project involves establishing a pilot-manufacturing unit, which would enhance creative development of the new material and facilitate increased scales of production (size and volume). Through increasing the creative and commercial potential of the material, the project will expand the aesthetic vocabulary for architects, designers and craft-makers - offering a broader range of design solutions.
The research team intend developing 'design led' products, aimed at architects and designers who are particularly focused on the use of innovative and sustainable building products. A priority of the research team is to exploit how increased scales of manufacture, in turn increases the creative possibilities, through previously unforeseen artistic output, including the possibility for engagement in public art projects and engendering a sense of place through utilizing locally sourced raw materials.
The project entails the Research Team working in collaboration with a project partner, Recycling Lives (RL), a 'Queens Award for Sustainable Enterprise' winning company, based in Preston, UK. RL are a perfect fit as partner as they are a major UK recycling company with over forty years experience in the recycling and waste management industry. It is proposed that the pilot plant would be established on their premises. They will provide, in kind, manufacturing, business administration, sales and marketing support, through their company infrastructure.
An unforeseen pathway to impact, emerging from the above-completed research, addresses the recycling of CRT lead-bearing glass - currently presenting a major environmental problem to both the UK and global recycling industry, due to the high lead content of the glass. With 1.9 billion screens still in use globally, there is an urgent need to develop novel, environmentally acceptable solutions.
The research team has undertaken preliminary empirical research, which suggests that the incorporation of CRT glass in the new Eco-material can result in the lead content being safely encapsulated. Proving the safe encapsulation of lead within the new Eco-material, would be a crucial step towards realising the commercial potential of CRT lead glass, whilst also offering a novel solution to the CRT recycling problem.
The project will demonstrate how research, originating within creative art practice, can lead to the delivery of significant creative, economic, social and environmental impacts.