Dezeen Magazine

Plastic furniture made from old toys introduces kids to the circular economy

Antwerp-based brand Ecobirdy has used recycled plastic toys to create a range colourful furniture for kids, aiming to raise their "awareness for sustainability".

With an overarching goal of  introducing children to the circular economy, all the pieces from Ecobirdy's debut collection are made from old plastic toys and are completely recyclable.

Ecobirdy children's furniture

Debuted at this year's Maison&Objet furniture fair, the collection includes a lightweight chair called Charlie that has rounded legs and edges, and an accompanying table named Luisa.

A bird-shaped storage container with a removable beak is designed to raise awareness of the endangered Kiwi bird, while a rhino-shaped lamp draws attention to the plight of rhinos.

Ecobirdy children's furniture

The brand, which said it aims to "create pieces that enable kids to experience creativity and at the same time raise awareness for sustainability", is co-funded by COSME – an EU programme that aims to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to access finance in all phases of their lifecycle.

Ecobirdy's debut collection follows an in-depth two-year study into how to sustainably recycle plastic toys.

Ecobirdy children's furniture

"We found that plastic toys use plastic more intensively than other consumer goods," said Ecobirdy's founders, Antwerp-based designers Joris Vanbriel and Vanessa Yuan.

"By giving old plastic a new life, our aim is to free our ecosystem from its pernicious impact. As we use innovative technologies, made for the reuse of plastic, there is no need to add any pigments or resin."

Ecobirdy children's furniture

As well as the design and production of the new products, Ecobirdy has created a system for the collection and recycling of old or unused toys.

The design, recycling and production of Ecobirdy furniture is all carried out in Europe using fair business practices.

Ecobirdy children's furniture

"Due to accurate sorting, cleaning and grinding during the recycling process, the plastic of all products is absolutely free from harmful chemicals," said a statement from the brand. "It is clean, pure and 100 per cent safe."

"The whole collection is produced in Italy. In the manufacturing process, manual labour plays a significant role alongside machines."

Ecobirdy children's furniture

An accompanying limited-edition storybook plus a school programme have been designed to introduce children to the circular economy – which aims to minimise resource usage and waste by using sustainable materials to create long-lasting products that can be recycled – and inspire them to contribute to a more sustainable future.

Ecobirdy aims to recycled 250,000 kg of plastic toys. According to its website, 80 per cent of toys end up in landfill, incinerators or the ocean while 90 per cent are made of plastic and are used for just six months on average.

Ecobirdy children's furniture

Design for children has exploded in recent years as brands wisened up to the potential of the kids' furniture market.

In 2016 child-focused furniture and toys dominated Milan Design Week when Kartell president and CEO Claudio Luti told Dezeen: "It is a huge market with very high potential, and many offers in terms of furnishings and toys."

Since then, numerous design products aimed at children have launched, including a collection of self-assembly furniture secured by sausage-shaped party balloons, smart and robotic cribs by the likes of Yves Behar and Ford, and a line of furniture that grows up with children.