Waste Labs began as an initiative to create new business models for urban areas to help tackle the problems of business waste, reducing the waste streams to landfills. As business waste (Mayor of London Business Waste Strategy, 2011) accounts for 80% of London’s rubbish, and 99.3% of London’s businesses are SMEs, I wanted to create a small scale system that could offer services for this particular sector.


Glass Lab is a system for collecting and processing waste glass from small businesses in London. Developed by Royal College of Art student Diana Simpson Hernandez, Glass Lab collects glass waste for free from enrolled businesses in the local vicinity and uses the glass as raw material to manufacture products for the public sector. The collected glassbottles are crushed on-site and graded into fine, medium and coarse filaments. These grades are combined with a vegetable bio-resin binder to produce strong and weatherproof products such as light bollards, tiles and street furniture. This project is based around the idea of viewing waste as a resource and using cast-off materials to create alternative economies at local level to empower small businesses and communities.
Glass is the waste material with the largest volume-weight ratio making its transport very energy intensive and costly. In addition, the recycling glass industry is extremely energy hungry, running furnaces at over 1500 degrees Celsius for 24 hours, remelting glass for reuse in the packaging sector. The objectives since the beginning were to create a new local system that would collect glass waste from local businesses at no cost, process it at a Glasslab local facility and manufacture products for local use. In this way she would highlight the real value of waste, helping to bring about a cultural shift as a result.
The project was shortlisted for the Sustainability Awards at the RCA and she began a collaboration with 19 Greek Street Gallery, where the project was to be scaled up and refined into a commercially viable model.


This project is addresses to: design industry.


  • it is a versatile and colourful material
  • different type of use for decoration


  • the recycling process is only at local level
  • they don’t recycle plastic, paper, food and other waste materials


Waste Labs

GlassLab_Diana Simpson Hernandez