Patchwork thinking and closed-loop recycling

The Graphical Tree
3 min readFeb 13, 2023


It’s easy to use something only once. It’s also easy to throw something away.

And despite your sustainability leanings it’s also easy to discard something if you think it cannot be recycled.

So although we’re careful with our waste removal, and choose our refuse collectors wisely (thank you First Mile) there are still everyday items we use that end up in the bin. Although we know these are used to make energy rather than being dumped into a landfill, it’s still painful to know, and wish that we could do more. We were delighted to know…

We can be more sustainable

It came as a welcome surprise recently that we found a user, or should that be a re-user for many of the hard plastic items we would have normally been forced to throw away. Are You Mad produced a pop-up shop in London’s Carnaby Street and approached us to produce some eco-friendly graphics. This inventive manufacturer and retailer take unwanted, unrecyclable plastic and make it into something else. We jumped at the chance to show them a number of the things we usually discard — unwanted plastic lids for dispatch tubes, caps from roll media, off-cuts of foamex (a fire-rated plastic board media suitable for both indoor and outdoor graphics), etc. “Yes, absolutely”, they said, “We can use this.” So now, once a week, the collection team from Are You Mad drops by to pick up all the items we’ve saved for them to put to good use.

Closed-loop recycling

Closed-loop recycling is a process by which a product or material can be used to make a new product, or converted back to a raw material without losing its properties during the recycling process.

By reducing the production and use of raw materials, closed-loop recycling allows us to minimize the harm done to the environment as well as lessen the depletion of the earth for something we might use as a human resource.

Are You Mad plans to create ‘the first closed-loop plastic recycling experiment held within an urban retail community…’ (with the) waste transformed, into a conceptual retail space, furniture that lives on the street, and into design lead products.’

Patchwork thinking

So where does patchwork thinking come into the equation, and what is it? Patchwork thinking is effectively the building of a community to help. It’s the bringing in of other ideas, other methods, and other people, to create something and help the greater good. We all have our specific expertise, and although we are brilliant at producing large-format print and display graphics, we do need the aid and experience of others in specialist areas such as recycling and waste management. They help us to fulfill our potential and solve some of the dilemmas we cannot fix ourselves.

So when we found someone who could reuse many of our more difficult-to-recycle items, we jumped at the chance. We’d be mad not to, wouldn’t we?

You can find out more about our sustainable print offering here, and read about ways to be sustainable with your graphics.



The Graphical Tree

Industry-leading specialists in large format print & display, including sustainable print offerings /