In 1995 Dyson launched the Recyclone (1), the first vacuum cleaner to be made entirely of recycled plastics. Initially the cleaners were made from waste materials of the DC01 and DC02 manufacturing process, with a brand-new motor, bin and electrical components. It was intended that a scheme would be established to collect end-of-life Dyson vacuum cleaners where the plastics parts would be separated into different polymer types, cleaned, granulated, dyed and then moulded into new parts for the Recyclone DC02. One year’s production was hoped to recover 30 tonnes of plastics from landfill.
This example was manufactured in 1997, and was coloured green with organic pigments to emphasise its environmental credentials. It was packaged in a reusable hessian bag with user instructions printed onto recycled paper. Unfortunately, however, the concept was ahead of its time and failed to capture consumer interest.
In practice, the Recyclone did not offer any extra features or performance benefits over the standard DC02 model, and it was sold at a slightly higher price. Additionally, using recycled plastics was simply not viable at that time due to the need for significant quantities of virgin material to be added to the mix to ensure durability. Only about 400 Recyclones were produced when Dyson made the decision to close this project and improve sustainability by optimising efficiencies in how the cleaner operated instead.
Although research into plastics recycling and the integration of recyclate into new products has steadily advanced since the introduction of the Recyclone, it has taken a further 25 years before another manufacturer has been able to successfully address the challenge of creating a vacuum cleaner made from 100% recycled plastics. In 2020, Electrolux announced the development of their prototype in partnership with Stena Recycling, a Swedish company that collects discarded electronic consumer products and breaks them down into raw materials.