Peter Marigold's FORMcard hits the spot

Peter Marigold's FORMcard hits the spot

Forgotten how to make do and mend? Get yourself a pack of bioplastic FORMcard, which less than a year after its launch is proving a remarkable global success.

FORMcard is made in the UK and it's biodegradable

Products such as FORMcard and the longer-established Sugru have captured the hearts and minds of that large club which is always open to new members, the global maker community. But designer Peter Marigold says his British-made FORMcard packs are also appealing to people in poorer countries across Africa and Latin America who seem to appreciate having an affordable and very easy to use bit of kit to keep their belongings in good working order. Packs of 3 cost £5.99

Peter Marigold laughs when asked if he's now driving a Bentley. He's not become a start-up millionaire - yet - but he's delighted to say that FORMcard packs have already sold in the hundreds of thousands and they're winging their way to all corners of the globe.

It's quite a crowdfunding success story given FORMcard received funding pledges on Indiegogo of £164,514 only in January and eight months later the factory's working flatout to produce the packs to meet demand.

'It has been very quick .. considering I didn't really start developing the product until the middle of last year,' says Marigold, who's based in Stoke Newington in north London. 

 

FORMcard packs come in lots of colours. Pigments are non styrene derived.
Furniture and product designer Peter Marigold has a background in sculpture. He's based in Stoke Newington

FORMcard, for those who've not yet seen or read anything about it, is a credit card-sized piece of biodegradable bio-plastic. When you need to fashion something quickly, you drop a card in a glass of hot water, allow it to soften for a few minutes, then it'll be malleable so you can make what you need. Such as a stand for your mobile phone. A hook for a saucepan. An emergency funnel. A cover for the head of a chisel. The possibilities are endless and people all over the world are sending Marigold pictures of their handiwork. 

 
Need your phone to stand up? FORMcard to the rescue..
A woodworker made a protective cover for his curved head chisel using FORMcard
Fix that watering can..
Lots of colours are available - product does not contain styrene

It's interesting what does and doesn't capture the public imagination and Marigold - who trained as a sculptor, product designer and has been designing furniture for some years - says he thinks FORMcard's doing well because 'people like the power of change. FORMcard is a very simple product that lets you adapt and change things.'

It's a bio-plastic, so it's not derived from petrol-chemicals, but Marigold says he didn't set out to make an eco product. 'It didn't come about because I wanted to be virtuous. I've always liked experimenting with materials and I'm interested in changeability and mutability. But of course if you are mending things, you are being virtuous because you're not consigning something ot the rubbish bin. I mean, I went to the dump recently and it's amazing to see things such as whole bicycles, computers thrown there..massive amount of stuff that could be fixed or modified so it's still useable.'

He does hate waste and that was a driver in developing FORMcard. 'Take something like a fridge drawer. It gets a crack, so people go out and spend £65 on a new drawer. But it's so easily fixed with a bit of plastic. I like to feel I'm taking control in a situation like that. I don't want to have to spend a lot on another drawer.' 

Marigold did decide to experiment with bioplastics - which were developed in the '30s - because of concern about plastic pollution and FORMcard is manufactured by a bioplastics manufacturer in the UK. The product is available in a host of colours, which aren't derived using the chemical styrene.

He says FORMcard is 'the perfect internet product' - it's lightweight so inexpensive to post, it's not cumbersome, it's cheap and it's got huge general appeal - everyone everywhere needs to fix things from time to time and if you haven't got much money, it's great to have something that allows you to work out your own solution.'

FORMcard is mouldable into stand-alone shapes but it will bond to certain types of plastic to make a repair. A difference with Sugru is that this is a silicone material, a mouldable glue, so to speak, so the two products aren't the same, although there are occasions when either could be used.

Watch the online video on the FORMcard website to see it in action.

Marigold clarifies the issue around biodegradability

FORMcards are made from a plastic that is bio-degradable, but Marigold says it's problematic to say outright that they are bio-degradable, as he has taken a bio-plastic and remoulded it. Because of this FORMcard would need to undergo separate bio-degradablitiy testing, which at present is highly expensive. For this reason the product can't be advertised as biodegradable - even though the plastic used is fully certified as such.

And in terms of longevity, as long as the material does not come into contact with soil it won't degrade. But when FORMcard does come into contact with soil it will start to break down and return to bio-mass. 

 

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