Advertising banners, truck tarpaulins and grain covers. These are a few of the common uses of PVC coated polyester fabric. Durable, light weight, water tight, with good tensile strength, vinyl coated fabric protects against weather and damage.
However, the combination of two plastics as woven fabric (PVC and PE) makes recycling difficult. Currently in Australia, virtually all this material goes to landfill after years of service.
Determined to find a solution, the VCA is working with partners in Australia. It has collected data and information on the different supply chains. The annual scale of the waste is:
Advertising banners >500 tonnes = 1.2million m2
Grain covers 4,000 tonnes
Truck side tarpaulins 400 tonnes.
Wanting better uses than landfill for this special fabric, in 2014 the Vinyl Council teamed up with Monash University, and with a Victorian Future Designers Grant engaged four students to destroy, tear, weld and roll the advertising banners into new products. Along with an expert team of banner distributors, manufacturers and reprocessors the students explored a wide variety of processes including heat rolling, vacuum forming, pulverising, even removal of some of the PE fluff.
The project succeeded in identifying a number of potential applications ranging from 'pelt' for furniture to floor covering, and moulded components for complex products.
The project culminated in a ReForm presentation of all the product samples, methods used and design ideas at Monash University School of Industrial Design in March 2015.
The report of the project with images and descriptions can be downloaded here.
The VCA and team plan to continue to explore cost-effective options to reach the holy grail of reprocessing coated fabric.
Winning Awards with Truck Tarp Kiosk
Congratulations to Monash University and Studiobird for winning 'Small Project Architecture' in the Victorian Architecture Awards, June 2015. Why be boring, when you have blue, flexible fabric? Re-using shiny blue truck tarpaulins, this design makes full use of the malleable, water-tight features of vinyl coated fabric to create a totally modern and playful design for a pop-up security kiosk.