Last week, we were intrigued by a post on Coolhunting about RootPhi and Timbuk2‘s recycled messenger bags. The material is made from bonded plastic bags–very strong and quite eco chic. In an interview with RootPhi Cofounder and President Doug Patt, PSFK found out more about the innovative fabric, San Francisco’s shopping bag ban, and his love of trashy products. Plus, Rootphi’s top-secret sneaker revolution.
DP: My business partner, Brian Witlin, developed the machine and method of manufacturing while at Stanford University finishing a masters degree in mechanical engineering and design last year.
PSFK: What are the mechanics of the machine?
DP: The machine and process are currently patent pending so we don’t like to give too much away.
What we can say is that the recycled fabric, RootPhi calls Reclaimâ¢, is made from Low and High-density polyethylene. LDPE and HDPE are the simple plastic ingredients found in typical shopping bags that you’d find at your local grocery or shopping market. RootPhi has developed a machine that turns these bags into a very special fabric that has characteristics much like leather or vinyl. The difference being that this new fabric is cost effectively recycled, comes in a wide variety of textures, thicknesses, colors and can be used in many applications.
PSFK: How did the partnership with Timbuk2 come about?
DP: Timbuk2 saw this material in spring of last year during the early stages of development when RootPhi was making an assortment of prototype products such as change purses, wallets, and a variety of bags.
PSFK: Is the partnership for a limited time or long term?
DP: Interestingly San Francisco has just implemented a ban plastic shopping bags…RootPhi and Timubuk2 feel it is the perfect time to roll out a product that surpasses expectations lawmakers had when they wrote the ban. We plan on doing all kinds of useful things with trash for many years to come!
PSFK: Do you hope to make other products using the same technique?
DP: As stated in response to question #3 the messenger bag is just one of many potential collaborative explorations in products that can be made from Reclaimâ¢.
PSFK: Can you tell us about your upcoming projects at Rootphi? What can we look for next?
DP: Everything we do is both speculative and highly confidential but what I can tell you is that we are currently working on a groundbreaking accessory product for shoes that we believe will change the way
people use footwear forever. Stay tuned!