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aluminum cans

Recycling Aluminum Cans for Belts and Bags

London-based sustainable accessory brand Elvis & Kresse is researching a green solution to recycle aluminum cans into buckles and zips for their belts and bags.

This initiative is part of the recently awarded £1.2m research and development (R&D) funding to 10 small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) from the United Kingdom by the Business of Fashion, Textiles, and Technology (BFTT).

The BFTT SME R&D Program is hosted by the University of the Arts London (UAL) to deliver sustainable innovation for the fashion industry and its textile supply chain. It helps SME create new products and services with sustainability as the driving force.

"Small to medium enterprises are critical to the economy and critical to the creative sector, in particular, making up over 95% of creative businesses in the UK. [...] This initiative is intended to creatively and technically address the challenge of maintaining growth in the crucial early years of business, whilst also providing support for much-needed innovation, and sustainable growth, especially in these challenging and rapidly changing times."

 - Dr. Jane Harris, Director of Research & Innovation (Stratford) and BFTT Programme Director

Elvis & Kresse was founded in 2005 to upcycle London’s decommissioned fire-hoses too damaged to repair and going to landfill. The brand craft luxury bags and accessories out of this raw material to help reduce waste.

Upcycled clothes and accessories are gaining popularity among conscious consumers. Upcycling gives old garments and other used textiles a new life and extends the time they are being used.

It's an outstanding way to minimize the impact of fashion and textile waste on the environment. Instead of throwing old clothes and other useful materials away, and without breaking them down entirely, upcycling uses them to make something unique and more valuable.

For used clothes and materials that cannot be recycled otherwise, upcycling is a great option. Instead of sending them to landfills and add up to the enormous pile of waste already there, they are transformed into new products.

Upcycling adds value to waste materials and saves large amounts of resources. It's much more environmentally friendly than recycling as it's less expensive, requires less water, and energy.

The project is conducted in collaboration with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) researchers to design and build a small scale renewably-powered forge to recycle aluminum cans.

They hope to inspire other businesses and communities to embrace carbon-neutral manufacturing and create their devices for recycling, heating, or any other process that uses concentrated temperature.

"This collaboration will help protect the environment by converting waste we find on our streets into functional materials that can be used in Elvis & Kresse’s products. With our expert knowledge in materials science and engineering, we hope to design a simple, cheap renewable solution for Elvis & Kresse and other manufacturers worldwide.”

 - Dr. Haixue Yan, Senior Lecturer, Division of Materials Engineering

Elvis & Kresse is planning to design, build, test, and open-source a small scale renewably powered forge that will be safe, easy to build anywhere in the world for around USD 500 and solve other problems such as heating, cooking, recycling other materials, and more.

Tens of millions of aluminum cans are littered in public spaces and over 2 billion of them don’t get recycled because they are put into the wrong bin every year in the United Kingdom alone.

Waste is a major issue today for the environment, communities, and wildlife. It pollutes the air, water, and entire food chain, threatening human health, animals, and the planet.

“This has been a dream of ours for years, it is overwhelming to have been matched with the geniuses at Queen Mary and finally bring this all to life. This is a revolutionary technology where the IP will be shared with the world. Given the short time frames, we have to address the climate emergency we hope that this kind of carbon-free open innovation will unlock and inspire all kinds of solutions and generosity.”

 - Kresse Wesling, Elvis & Kresse co-founder and Environmental Designer

Learn more about the recycling aluminum cans project at

About the Author: Alex Assoune

Alex Assoune Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.


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