Student designs future-proofed sustainable sunglasses

16 September 2021
Photo of sustainable eyewear
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Sustainable Product Design student Charlie Ruck is giving plastic waste a new lease of life with the creation of a new range of Flexi Eyewear. 

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Charlie’s design, which is made from 100% recycled plastics, reduces the need for metals and other materials when it comes to the manufacturing of glasses. His project would enable low resource communities to have access to good quality eyewear, as the products could be produced by local workers.

Charlie was inspired to create a product from waste plastic after learning about Precious Plastic Machines during a first year course collaboration with the British Council and Malaysian social enterprise Biji Biji.

The machines, which transform waste plastic into useful products, are simple to make and use. They allow poorly resourced communities the opportunity to forge their own products from waste materials.

The distribution of these machines to poorly resourced communities is fundamental to Charlie’s sustainability venture.

Charlie has purposely created his Flexi glasses so that they can be produced with non-industrial machines. They’ve also been built to be recycled; the design uses mechanical clips that allow for the glasses to easily be ground down by the plastic machines and reproduced into a new pair.

Charlie recently submitted his work to the James Dyson Award, an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers.

Speaking to the award, Charlie said, “traditional glasses are produced with metal components at the injection process, fusing the two materials together for weight and strength of the product. However, trying to recycle these glasses is impossible due to the fused metal and plastic bodies.”

“Producing inexpensive injection moulders and plastic extruder machines (is crucial to) turning local plastic waste into new products. It gives waste a new lease of life.”

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