Metal products

Swansea company creating eye-catching products from plastic waste to double its workforce

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Smile Plastics panels are used here in a Ganni store

Richard Youle, local democracy journalist

A design and manufacturing company that creates eye-catching products from plastic waste is planning to double its workforce in Swansea.

Smile Plastics uses materials such as plastic jars and yogurt bottles to create decorative and durable panels for furniture and use in showrooms and general commercial and home interiors.

Clients include Mercedes-Benz and fashion brand Ganni. It also designs and manufactures side tables and cutting boards.

The company currently operates from Crofty Industrial Estate, North Gower, but needs more space and now has planning permission to move to a former factory in Swansea West Business Park, Fforestfach.

Emily Skinner, Smile Plastics’ customer experience manager, said the company’s headcount currently stands at between 25 and 32 and the goal is to more than double by the end of 2023.

She described the products as premium and 100% recycled and recyclable. A lot of money, she said, has been invested in machinery, processing and design work.

“People want the product to look absolutely stunning – design, aesthetics are really important,” she said.

coffee grounds

The Smile Plastics website said it can work with various plastics and types of paper, among other materials, and that over the years it has worked with CDs, coffee grounds, and electrical wiring sheaths. – as long as the waste was not metallic or heavily contaminated.

Plastic, however, is the main ingredient, with the overall goal of creating desirable products out of something perceived as low value or just waste. This market, Emily said, was now very competitive.

The company has received funding from the Welsh Government, which wants Wales to be a zero waste county by 2050, as well as private sector investors.

Emily said one of the two pioneers who explored turning plastics into creative products many years ago, Colin Williamson, was an advisor until recently, and Smile Plastics’ machines include ones called Colin 1, Colin 2 and Colin 3. The co-founders of Smile Plastics are Adam Fairweather, who is CTO, and Managing Director Rosalie McMillan.

Smile Plastics products are used in this Mercedes-Benz studio

Rosalie said, “The investment we received allowed us to accelerate the scale of our operations by supporting an additional factory and production line at a pivotal time for us.

“We will triple our capacity over the next year and provide improved service to our growing customer base.”

A planning statement submitted as part of Smile Plastics’ planning application to Swansea Council said the company was developing an apprenticeship program and also helping community groups.

Work to relocate the company to the new site – the former Michton plant – is expected to start in the last three months of this year.

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