Tetra Paks are a great invention. They can keep milk and other perishable items fresh for months without refrigeration. It can also be better than commercial canning because the Paks aren’t lined with BPA. But there has been some controversy as to just how green they are. Some have argued that the only way a small portion of the packs are usually recycled is by turning them into toilet paper. But now, an effort is being made to turn those Tetra Paks into useful items—like LED fixtures.
As recounted in the article about this DIY project, Treehugger’s Ruben Anderson once said, “Tetra Paks are seven incomprehensibly thin layers of paper, plastic and aluminum. The poor suckers who try to recycle them use giant blenders to mush the paper pulp off the plastic and metal, then they need to separate the plastic from the metal. What idiot thought this would be a better idea than washing a bottle and refilling it?”
Ouch. But Italian design firm Fatello! has come up with a way to make those Tetra Paks work for you. Designed by Mireia Gordi Vila and Federico Trucchia as an “open design framework,” Noctambula will be later freely released as a set of instructions following Fattelo!’s philosophy. Fattelo! tries to take household waste items and turn them into unexpected items that can be used. Designers looked at the Tetra Pak foil inside as having the potential for low voltage circuitry.
Related: Packaging for the future: Is boxed or bottled wine better for the Earth?
The foil layer inside a Tetra Pak is turned into the conductor of electricity. They have cut out part of it to create the circuit pattern. Once batteries and LED bulbs are hooked up, you can fold up the Pak following the instructions (which are not yet on their website, but promise to be soon) and then you have a Tetra Pak light fixture.
Fatello! will be offering the plan under Creative Commons soon. So keep bookmark their website. They will also offer a kit containing everything you need to build one—except the Tetra Pak carton, of course. That will have to come from your trash bin.
Images via Fatello!