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It is a love affair between idea, form and environment. It is eco-design. A concept that has evolved over the years and today has come into its own.

At first eco-design just meant recycling says Anne-Marie Boutin, President of the Agency for the Promotion of Industrial Creation.

“We then realised that how we process and what we make with the material is just as important as the material itself. The manufacturing of a new item must be as sustainable as the end product itself.”

The enthusiasm for eco-design has grown over the last decade.

Designer Frederic Lecourt explains eco-design means changing the whole decision making process.

“It means thinking about the product in a different way.Throughout the production process the material has to be treated in a sustainable way. We have to think about the way it will be used and its eventual destruction.”

At the Cité des Science et de l’Industrie in Paris, there are currently 209 design and eco-design exhibits, all with very different concepts.

One of them is a pool table manufactured locally from steel rather than traditional timber from the Amazon. Other objects are made from recycled materials including a prototype public bench.

It was created in Paris by the design agency Sismo. They were commissioned to create an original design to show that the whole of a drinks carton could be recycled.

Another aim was to make an object that encouraged city dwellers to recycle more.

The bench was chosen because it uses a large amount of recycled material.

Frederic Lecourt’s brief was to create a sustainably processed product that encouraged people to recycle more and that could be produced on a large scale.

“Taking into account all these factors we came up with the idea of a bench. Designing an item that everyone can use and that you can find in the street proves to everyone that recycling is worthwhile.”

The drink cartons used are originally made from cardboard, plastic and aluminium. The cardboard is already recycled to make a vast array of products, but the plastic and aluminium has, until now, had limited uses. Designers were set the task of finding a new use for the remaining waste products.

“This type of material is not very nice and that’s why we thought of using it for a bench,” says Frederic. “It is hard to use it to make small items because it is not very refined. A smaller item requires a more delicate finish. You can still see little bits of the aluminium and plastic in the bench but that is not a problem because we wanted to show that it’s a recycled item.”

4000 cartons are needed to make just one bench.

The concept shows how eco-design now means being environmentally friendly in every phase of development, from the design of the product right the way through to its final use.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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