Nothing, literally nothing, is wasted in Pentatonic's circular production process. Using revolutionary recycling systems, Pentatonic transforms plastic waste, e-waste, and other waste materials from some of the world’s biggest brands into new items, like high-quality jewellery and furniture.
Recycling and design don’t always go hand in hand, but Pentatonic is changing that. By tackling the growing e-waste epidemic head-on, it’s managing to turn rubbish into gold – sometimes literally.
See old DVDs get the Pentatonic treatment and emerge as iconic furniture with Daniel Arsham’s design practice Snarkitecture; smartphone screens become smashing glassware, and much more. This trash to treasure approach is more than just whacking a coat of paint on a chair and calling it upcycled – this is a stylish, design-led experience which is helping solve a genuine problem.
“We work across consumer electronics, fashion, sport, food and beverage, alcohol, furniture,” says Jamie Hall, Pentatonic’s CMO. “We have collaborations and partnerships in around seven different consumer sectors. They all present quite separate waste streams, but they’re connected by an industry of inertia where they’ve been making things the same way for decades.”
We work across consumer electronics, fashion, sport, food and beverage, alcohol, furniture
Pentatonic’s approach to recycling and design has seen it collaborate with some of the world’s biggest brands, helping re-imagine waste and reduce emissions at the same time. So, if you’re a business looking for an innovative new build – or you’re looking to recycle industrial quantities of waste, Pentatonic is the partner you’ve been waiting for.
It’s collaborated with Starbucks to create furniture for its coffee houses made from discarded waste plastic; built bar stools for a Ketel One zero-waste bar (with a little help from your friends here at World’s Most Rubbish); helped Burger King ditch single use plastic toys; and worked with established and up-and-coming designers alike to create timeless pieces of functional and decorative design. The possibilities are infinite and it seems that if you can think it, Pentatonic can make it reality.
The Burger King campaign especially caught the imagination of the general public when it launched in 2019, says Jamie.
“There was a petition created by two young girls to stop the big fast food chains giving away cheap toys with their children’s meals, and it got something like 500,000 signatures. It got a huge amount of profile overnight and Burger King took action. They came to us and made a big statement that they wanted to ditch single use toys. But they still had a high inventory across their restaurants and did an amnesty, inviting people to bring back toys from Burger King, Kinder Eggs and McDonalds.
“We went through a very painful and long process of separating multiple materials from tiny toys – some of them have batteries – separating them into different material streams. We’re in the middle of the process of transforming them into trays – that can be played on with crayons and in-store play areas etc. We’re still preserving the element of play, just moving away from disposable toys and making play more ‘re-usable’,” says Jamie.
By turning trash into treasure, Pentatonic is not only breathing new life into forgotten items, it’s reducing the amount of waste that ends up contaminating the natural world. Pentatonic has accepted that we’re on-the-whole a consumerist society, and has found ways to satiate our need for stuff using methods that will reduce harm to an already tired planet.
And yes, while we don’t necessarily want to admit it, money talks. Pentatonic knows this all too well and has inserted a ‘deposit’ scheme into the commercial products it creates. Collaborating with baseball cap brand New Era, Pentatonic has helped create a cap made from modern reusable materials, with a cash incentive to persuade consumers to recycle their cap at the end of its life.
You’re incentivising people to recycle or to keep the materials in the system, but you’re also making material value last longer, making it almost like a currency.
“It looks exactly the same, but we’ve embedded every single cap with NFC technology, so the customer can place their phone on their cap and say ‘cool I’ve got a $6 or $7 deposit in there’,” he says. “The deposit system isn’t as impactful for something like a cap which you’re not going to bin after two wears anyway, but we also put that in much higher turnover products.
“You’re incentivising people to recycle or to keep the materials in the system, but you’re also making material value last longer, making it almost like a currency. We’d buy that base material from somewhere, so we might as well get it back from our own products, and incentivise those who already have them to give them back,” adds Jamie.
“Taking the existing and transforming it into something unusual and extraordinary, and multiplying it thousands or even millions of times. This is what Pentatonic does as a core principle,” says Snarkitecture’s Daniel Arsham, the New York-based design team that’s been collaborating with Pentatonic. “That’s kinda the future.”
While most of us have embraced the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra with everyday household items, a lot of us will admit to being more haphazard with our electronics and consumer goods. Is this their future?