The need to differentiate isn’t new, but consumers aren’t buying the same old ideas anymore. They are demanding transparency and responsibility from the brands and products they bring into their homes. They’re asking questions and if they don’t like the answers they move on.
So, how can you differentiate a product or brand through materials in a meaningful way? What are consumers looking for?
High-tech and innovative materials are always a draw, but consumers are also becoming increasingly selective about purchases – demanding information about what a product is made from and how it impacts the planet. As an article from Entrepreneur puts it:
“When buyers make purchases, they want to know their decisions are good for their family and align with personal or charitable interests. Trust can’t be bought. It must be earned. Consumers want to understand exactly what they are buying, and rightly deserve the knowledge they seek.”
One suggestion might be materials made from unexpected sources…
Miura Board? by Athyron LLC // MC 9296-01
An extremely durable recycled alternative to wood, made from 100% waste materials with an over 10-year guarantee for continuous outdoor use. It is composed of ~ 50% post-industrial polyolefins (such as PP, HDPE, LDPE – alone or in combination) and ~ 50% agricultural by-products (natural fibers such as rice hulls, or synthetic fibers such as nylon carpet). Certain compositions of this material physically resemble wood, yet greatly outperform it in many respects.
No water is consumed and no effluents are created during the manufacturing process. All trimmings are re-processed and the product itself can be ground up and re-extruded completely. The material is ideally suited to replace hardwoods (such as oak, teak, etc.) and pressure-treated wood in harsh outdoor environments, as it does not absorb water, expand, rot, nor get attacked by insects, all while upcycling trash that otherwise would end up in a landfill.
Fishy Filaments? by Fishy Filaments Ltd // MC 8995-01
A 3D printing filament made from discarded polymer fishing nets to reduce the amount of ocean plastic pollution produced. Fishing nets tend to be set aside as waste when they have been physically damaged during fishing, or because they have been coated with an algal biofilm.
This fishing net waste, typically made from nylon 6 (PA6) monofilament, is collected and then processed using a proprietary washing and shredding process to thermo-mechanically recycle it into clean and dimensionally stable filaments. The process of producing the renewed filament is designed for minimal chemical and energy use, with both water and gaseous emissions considered throughout the entire process.
Tide Ocean R-PET Granules by Tide Ocean SA // MC 1039501
A versatile polyester (PET) granular for injection molding made completely from plastic collected from the ocean, coastlines, and uncontrolled landfills. The material has been developed and tested in partnership with the Institute for Materials Technology and Plastics Processing, a branch of the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil, Switzerland.
Together with scientists, the company has developed a formula that regenerates the plastic granules. They can reverse the damage caused by UV rays and salt water to which the plastic trash was exposed to while floating in the ocean. With its innovative production process, the company was able to further neutralize all possible contaminations from the industrial environment without any additional chemical additives, and has been able to prove that all granules made are REACH and RoHS compliant.
SEAQUAL? by Seaqual // MC 8499-01
A premium 100% recycled polyester fiber made in part from plastic marine waste retrieved by fishermen from the ocean depths. It comprises 5-10% upcycled marine plastic waste (PET) and 90-95% post-consumer recycled PET. The company has established a growing network to harvest the raw material while supporting various initiatives to clean the ocean.
Fishermen bring plastic waste caught in their nets to shore, where it is collected and transported to specialist centers. The waste is cleaned, sorted, and cleaned again before being up-cycled into fiber to be used in sustainable fabrics of the highest quality. The upcycled fiber exhibits the same performance as virgin PET and is offered in a variety of sizes and finishes in both continuous filament and staple fibers.
Apart from their benefit to the planet, the use of waste materials and ocean plastics like those above can enhance a product’s value through storytelling.