The most common place we find recycled paper pulp is in product packaging--pulp fiber is used to protect everything from Apple computers to, well, actual apples. Taiwanese designers Balance Wu and Chin Yang go one step further with Pulpop, a USB-rechargeable speaker system made from post-consumer pulp.
Acoustics and paper aren’t exactly an intuitive pairing, and the duo ran through a number of test models before landing on a shape that worked. As noted by Margaret Rhodes in the May issue of Fast Company, sound doesn’t carry very well through paper pulp. So Wu and Yang developed the distinctive hollow donut shape to provide an ad hoc speech box, where sound generated from the base speaker can reverberate. According to the manufacturers, the sound quality is "unexpectedly potent." The speakers are rechargeable, through a USB port, and work with a standard double-ended headphone cable.
A quick look at some of the statistics on how we blow through personal electronics reveals the motives behind Wu and Yang’s thinking. Americans throw out 100 million cellphones and more than 10 million computers every year--only 13% of those are properly recycled. And the number of electronic screens and gadgets we own is expected to double within just a few years.
Of course, however diminutive Pulpop’s electronic components may be, they still aren’t biodegradable. But it’s a start. Pulpop costs $56, and is available over on MollaSpace.