One of the key challenges humanity faces is finding ways to turn ‘waste’ into items that are both functional and attractive to use. A design studio in Italy is utilising the country’s most popular fruit to create eco-friendly homeware.
On the third day, God said: ‘let there be light.’ Not sure when She created oranges, but I’d imagine those came sometime shortly after.
Fast forward to today, and one company is taking discarded peels from those very oranges and turning them into devices for light. Talk about coming full circle.
The team at Krill Design, based in Milan, was searching for ways to transform abundant ‘waste’ material into something new and useful when they landed on citrus fruit, which is widely available in Sicily.
The region is responsible for distributing at least three percent of the world’s oranges. Its abundance of fruit trees makes choosing their peels a logistically sound and practical choice.
After a few steps, Krill Design’s end product is the Ohmie lamp. Each one is made from discarded peels of just two or three oranges sourced from family-owned orchards in the Messina province of Sicily.
Krill Design has been experimenting with using 3D printing techniques to upcycle fruit peels.
The creative agency does its best to avoid any additional waste during production, which involves grinding orange peels down and combining them with vegetable starch to create a firmer substance.
But before this happens, the orange peels need to be dried out to ensure that the organic matter has a moisture level below four percent.
Once this has been achieved, the dried peels are ground into a fine powder and sifted to filter out larger pieces.
The next stage involves adding a biopolymeric vegetable starch base, the only part of the process outsourced to a compounding facility. The reason for outsourcing is that the machinery required for this step is extremely bulky and expensive.
Here, the mixture is pressed into pellets, which make them almost ready to be turned into lamps.
The pellets are sent back to the team at Krill Design, who extrude the orange filament from the pellet and feed it into a 3D printer.
It then emerges as the Ohmie lamp.
The key limitation to Ohmie lamps are that they must be sent to a composting facility if owners want to discard them. They cannot be composted directly in nature due to their strengthening biopolymer coating.
For now, the biopolymer coating is necessary, as it provides the Ohmie lamps with high performance and durability in customers’ homes. Krill Design continues researching other alternatives and is set on finding a polymer that will allow for composting in nature and at home.
The Ohmie lamp joins a growing list of home and kitchenware created from food waste like meat cut-offs, fruit peels, and mushrooms.
It’s these technologies that will help us cut down on food waste, ease plastic production, and slow the climate crisis.