Thanks to the staggering statistics involved, junk mail has a huge environmental footprint, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 9 million cars. There are ways to stop junk mail, but for the bothersome pieces that still manage to get through, here's an unconventional idea to recycle them: using the Junk Press to convert them into paper plates, bowls and coasters.
Created by Australian designer Andrew Simpson under the Supercyclers design collaborative, the Junk Press is a sand-cast aluminum press that turns the tough celluose of junk mail into new items. The concept turns this nuisance into a source of raw materials for new items, explains Simpson:
The origin of the idea is that, try as we might, it seems impossible to get rid of junk mail, but the other way to think about the situation is that there is a constant flow of free cellulose coming to peoples homes.
Here's how it works: shredded junk mail is blended with liquid, then poured into the mold of the press. The press itself comes with a range of interchangeable molds for different forms, whether it's bowl, plate or coaster. The lid is closed, and pressure applied. This strong pressure squeezes out any remaining water in the paper pulp, allowing the cellulose to bond better. Says Simpson:
We worked on a lot of test rigs to work out the best way to form the paper and in the end we worked out that the fully pulped worked better then shredded and that the strongest forms were created by applying the most pressure.
The result are plates and bowls that are thicker and sturdier than store-bought disposables, and are actually made from a source of paper that would have otherwise been wasted -- and looks geometrically distinctive to boot. It's an interesting way to tackle this enormous problem, making it useful instead of annoying. More over at Andrew Simpson and Supercyclers.