Ceramics made of reclaimed industrial waste by-products

Called Circular Ceramics, Sara Howard designed a tableware collection made of reclaimed industrial waste by-products, aiming to minimise the consumption of finite raw materials and to divert waste away from the landfill.

In ceramic manufacturing, waste is produced in almost every stage of production. In the quarrying of clay alone, 9 tonnes of waste is produced for every tonne of clay. Many of the raw materials used for ceramics production are expected to run out in our lifetime, some within as little as 6 years, like tin and zinc.

Howard initially aimed to design a circular production process for the ceramics industry, but because the process of firing changes the chemical compounds of the materials irreversibly, this proved impossible. Therefore, Howard turned to the production of glazes and clay substitutes made from ceramic waste to substitute typical virgin mined raw materials. Glass slurry, for example, can substitute silica and flux components in a glaze, stone offcuts can substitute the silicas, and excavation waste can be used instead of alumina. The later can also be used instead of clay. Saturated and damaged plaster moulds in the ceramics industry, made using the mined raw material gypsum, can be reclaimed to make new moulds.

Circular Ceramics is an open research project in which all the methods of reclaiming waste is accessible to everyone. It can be applied at all scales of ceramic production, from a studio potter to a mass manufacturer.

For similar projects, click here, here, and here.

Photos: Sara Howard (via James Dyson Awards)