What do you do when your kitchen or household appliances wear out? Chances are they end up in a bin somewhere. Many of them can’t be repaired, or were cheap enough not to make them fixing. Throwing them away is hardly a sustainable model, with valuable materials lost every time something is thrown away.
A recent Agency of Design project called Design Out Waste offered some possible solutions. They chose a toaster as an example, and designed three different ways to make it sustainable. It’s a great demonstration of circular economy principles. I’m sure there are other approaches, but here are three:
1. Make a toaster that will last forever:
Option one is a cast-iron beast of a toaster that is intended to last for decades. You’ll simply never need to buy another one. No heating element will last forever, so it’s still fixable, but robustness is the key principle.
2. Design a toaster to be repaired:
Option 2 is a modular toaster. If one toasting slot fails, it can be removed and posted away to be replaced, while the rest of the toaster will continue to work just fine. At the manufacturer’s end, the toaster modules are designed to be dismantled and reused.
3. Make the toaster recyclable
Finally, the third toaster is cheap and cheerful, but the most impressive innovation here is that you can stick it in the recycling. It doesn’t need any special manual process, and just uses existing recycling systems.
That’s the project in a nutshell. The agency has videos on each of them with more of the theory. And no, sadly you can’t buy the invincible toaster at the top. I’d like one too.