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lokaReboon

Extend the balloon’s life, extend the pleasure.

MA 2020/2022
Keywords
Sustainability, Balloon recycling, Material
Overview

lokaReboon is the service that supports people (manufacturers/hotels/balloon studios/individuals) to recycle used balloons to create new material 'lokaReboon', it includes: 

  • The online and offline recycling channels; 
  • A reward system records the user's activities of balloon recycling and incentivises users to join in balloon recycling; 
  • A customisation system enhances the product's added value and the user experience; 
  • Some events where people can experience creations from wasted balloons to better understand the value of recycling.

This service's value is raising awareness of balloon recycling and incentivizing users to recycle balloons. Provide online and offline channels for balloon recycling. Combined with the new material brand, this project shows the possibility that balloons can be recycled and reused.

Collaboration

This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration. Thanks to Ripple Lianyi Chen from Textiles for her contribution to the development of the material.

Background

What comes to your mind when talking about balloons? 

Weddings, birthday parties, graduation ceremonies and company celebrations are the most common scenes 

The balloon is a symbol of “happiness, pleasure and "hilarity". People will remember these memories with the balloon but ignore where the balloon ends up. 

According to surveys, more than 480 tons of balloons are used and released in Beijing alone every year. Others are abandoned as general rubbish and landfills, around 70% of balloons fall into the sea, where elastomers harm over 700 species.

From the balloons’ life cycle, we can see that the manufacturers, event hosts and individual users all make wasted balloons. The life of a balloon ends here after a disposable use, causing harm to nature. So what can we do?

Research

Stakeholders:

Before balloons being used, it approaches factory, distributors, individuals, etc. Afterwards, it requires recyclers, sorters, manufacturers, designers to recycle and remake them. The main scenario of using balloons are parties, wedding, school and company events. The balloons for these scenes were decorated by balloon studios. So, our main recycling source of waste balloons are manufacturers, balloon studios, hotels and individual users. 

We interviewed the balloon studio and joined events with them and found that the balloons were punctured and thrown away as general rubbish because “It’s hard to recycle them because the recycling cost would be higher than the revenue.” In addition, balloon factories are another major source of wasted balloons. In the Xiong'an balloon factory, every month a tonne of waste balloons would be generated due to substandard quality. These balloons would be sold to recycled rubber factories at a very low price and re-made into other rubber products.

The problems summarised from our researches are:

  • Currently there are no platforms or channels dedicated to balloon recycling.
  • People don't have the awareness to recycle balloons.
  • There is a lack of incentives for people to recycle balloons.

So, how might we raise awareness of balloon recycling so that users can change their behaviour from throwing away balloons to recycling them? How might we provide users with new channels to recycle balloons, enabling a better user experience?

lokaReboon

Ripple from textile and I teamed up to explore the potential of recycled balloons. We recycle the balloon and remake it into new sustainable materials 'lokaReboon', lokaReboon insists on traceable recycling, sustainable regeneration and no secondary pollution throughout the production chain. The material has rubber's excellent strength and abrasion resistance. The balloons’ rich colours are preserved in new material, so there is no need for secondary dyeing and industrial waste water. 

For more information, please view loka's instagram: lokareboon or website: www.lokareboon.com

Service

For balloon manufacturers, studios and hotels where we could a get batch of balloons, we choose to cooperate with them directly, and recycle balloons regularly. They can call us or upload the information of balloon on our website then deliver balloon to us.


How do we sort balloons by colour after receiving batches of balloons?

We’ve tried both manual sorting and machine sorting by infrared technology.

For manual sorting. We contacted some local unemployed women who are keen to do the balloon sorting, providing a Balloon handcrafted workshop on colour sorting and matching instructions. The manual sorting could offer new jobs opportunities for local women. For machine sorting, We contacted the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology which own the technology patent. Currently infrared sorting technology has been used for medicine sorting, It is viable for balloon sorting. This method could be more efficient and precise, but need high equipment costs.


How do we recycle and sort balloons from individual users?

For individual users organising parties at home, school or company occasionally, any amount of balloons can be recycled in this offline modular recycling bin, which offers them a more tangible and easy way to recycle balloons.  This bin is also easier for individuals to throw and sort as well as use balloons for workshops, because user can see the three states of the recycled balloon, the raw material, the collaged balloons and the new material lokaReboon. It is modular which made it easy to transport and replicate.

The recycling bins will be set up in designated places like Loka’s offline store, balloon studios and some hotels. People can find their nearest recycling bin on the balloon recycling map on our website.


The recycling process is: Our partners like the balloon studios, hotels and our offline stores will recycle waste balloons from individual users. After that, we collect waste balloon from our partners directly and regularly. This makes recycling easier and tangible, and enables less costs to be spent on recycling transport.


How to raise awareness of recycling balloon?

We show the outcome of recycled balloons on recycling bins so that people can see the other face of production. Also, we will hold some workshops where people can experience weaving wasted balloons and make new creations out of it, finally it could raise awareness.

SPECIAL
THANKS

I would like to express my greatest gratitude to my project tutor, Qian Sun, who has encouraged and guided me throughout the whole design process; and my partner Ripple, who has provided a lot of meaningful advice with her material knowledge, has greatly contributed to the development of this project.

Team