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Turning Trash Into Tasteful Homeware


Two Kiwi students were revealed as national runners up at this year’s James Dyson Award with their ingenious invention; The Utilize Series, a project that uses 3D printing to turn discarded materials into artful, useful designs. 

Matthew O’Hagan and Courtney Naismith’s project breathes new life into hard to recycle plastics by transforming them into 3D printed homewares including light shades made from polystyrene coffee stirrers, baskets made from flax offcuts and soft plastics, and public furniture made from plastic fishing gear collected from the waterways.

Over the last century, the linear consumption pattern of ‘take, make, use and waste’ has resulted in a severe pollution problem that is causing detrimental effects to our natural environments, biodiversity and health.


The lack of responsible recycling infrastructures has resulted in many hard to recycle plastics and other materials ending up in landfills. 

With China’s recent waste importing ban, and a lack of responsible recycling infrastructures, many hard to recycle plastics and other materials are ending up in landfills. 

O’Hagan and Naismith wanted to create an upcycling system that married modern technology and design to inspire people to look at their consumption and disposal habits and see the value of discarded materials.

The Utilize Series adds value to discarded materials and ensure they are continuously reused after they have reached their end of life.

A collection of machines in conjunction with one another, form an effective upcycling process that results in a 3D printed filament.


The filament is then used to create three 3D printed designs including chandeliers made from polystyrene coffee stirrers, baskets made from flax offcuts and soft plastics, and furniture made from plastic fishing gear collected from the waterways. 

“By using 3D printing we were able to customise and create high-end designs that add value to discarded materials, while also introducing them into a circular initiative.”

Unlike many recycling initiatives and designs, the Utilize Series transforms and reuses a variety of discarded materials, many of which are classified as non-recyclable.

Their designs have proven that organic materials like flax offcuts can also be reused through 3D printing as seen in the final baskets designs.

Since graduating, they have gone on to turn their uni project into a research and design start-up studio called Utilize.

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