Durable recycled glass tiles from old appliances reduce electronic waste!


Everyone is looking for the next sustainable material that will change the design industry, from algae to mushrooms, no stone (or plant) is left behind given the urgent need for alternatives to fight change. climate. But at the same time, very few are looking at how to recycle existing sustainable materials like glass which can give them a second life! Common Sands is a design project focused on just that – recycling glass from consumer electronics devices and turning them into tiles that would otherwise end up as e-waste.

Glass is durable from its origin to its end. While the manufacturing process contributes to emissions like most things, we can counter this by extending the life of the glass because it is endlessly recyclable rather than letting it go to waste to do more. Sand is a crucial resource for our tech-driven society, it does more than just sit on the beach! We produce silicon chips, fiber optic cables, insulators, solar cells, and it is also the main ingredient of glass which is used in the production of consumer electronics such as refrigerators, microwaves. and computers.

Despite relentless efforts to extract, transport, refine, and turn sand into complex electronic components, little is done to recycle these components when electronic products are thrown out after use, in part because there are no clear guidelines. on the efficient treatment of glass from electronic waste. To solve this problem, a Norwegian architectural consultancy called Snøhetta worked with Brussels-based Studio Plastique to research and explore the possibility of recycling as well as using the glass contained in electronic waste.

After multiple trials, prototypes and variants, the team developed a standard process for recycling electronic waste glass components as well as an application that incorporates its variable material quality: glass tiles! This is where Italian ceramic tile maker Fornace Brioni stepped in and brought their experience, industrial know-how, production facilities and scalability potential to the project. The team begins with waste glass from ovens and microwaves to demonstrate the aesthetic depth, function and potential of the recycled material.

Using recycled glass, the team made tiles in two different sizes, both opaque and transparent. Each had a unique pattern and look, but all of the tiles exhibited a deeply intricate material quality, similar to terrazzo. This has determined that they are suitable for a wide range of architectural applications, including both surface coverage and semi-transparent partition elements! Common Sands has now turned potential waste into scalable architectural glass tiles, infinitely recyclable and effectively reducing electronic waste!

Designers: Snøhetta, Studio Plastique and Fornace Brioni


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