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Turning 'plastic islands' into vacuum cleaners

21st February 2013


The Pacific Ocean is polluted with the largest floating garbage islands in the world. Electrolux intends to gather plastic from the world’s oceans and turn it into a number of vacuum cleaners. The initiative – “Vac from the Sea” – aims to bring attention to the issue of plastic pollution and at the same time combat the scarcity of recycled plastics needed for making sustainable home appliances.

“There are plastic islands, some several times the size of the state of Texas, floating in our oceans. Yet on land, we struggle to get hold of enough recycled plastics to meet the demand for sustainable vacuum cleaners. What the world needs now is a better plastic karma”, says Cecilia Nord, Vice President, Floor Care Environmental and Sustainability Affairs, Electrolux.

The plan is to make a limited number of vacuum cleaners from plastic debris harvested from the Pacific,- and the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Baltic and North Sea. Anyone interested in the issue will be able to follow the endeavor and find inspiration on how to get involved. The vacuum cleaners will be put on display to decision makers and consumers as part of spreading the word.

The techniques for harvesting the plastic will vary depending on location – from diving after it to scooping it up from the waves. We will work together with volunteers and experts that live close or work with this problem, says Cecilia Nord.

Electrolux says it has a natural stake in getting more plastic into the cycle and out of the ocean. Being one of the world’s greatest appliance manufacturers, Electrolux has a place in the homes of hundreds of millions people.

“More recycling directly translates into more sustainable appliances and homes. Our engineers have managed to get our green range vacuum cleaners up to 70 per cent recycled plastic but our ultimate vision is of course 100 per cent, and for all ranges”, says Jonas Magnusson, Product Marketing Manager at Electrolux.
 
The main barrier to taking the next step and increase the share of recycled plastic in home appliances is the uncertain supply of recycled raw material. Much research and progress is currently being done by the recycling industry. However, to fix the imbalance in supply and demand and get the cycle working, overall consumer perception must change and barriers to recycling become lower.

“This issue is much too important to leave to politicians. Companies, consumers and politicians are equally accountable for the situation. Since our company delivers appliances to millions of homes, we have an opportunity to raise awareness and affect consumer decisions,” says Cecilia Nord.

For more information, visit www.electrolux.com

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