Weez and merl in Sussex

Meet Weez & Merl

We get to know founders Louise and Merl Thilly from Weez & Merl, a unique business dedicated to recycling waste plastic from Brighton and Hove businesses. Their innovative approach transforms recycled waste into a range of homewares, furniture, and sheet material. From tabletops and countertops for Brighton bars and restaurants to branded reusable coasters, Weez & Merl’s creations are both practical and environmentally friendly. Discover more about Louise and Merl’s inspiring journey here.

Describe Weez & Merl

At Weez & Merl, we recycle waste plastic that we collect mostly from other businesses in Brighton and Hove, but also direct from our clients, and turn it into homewares, furniture, and sheet material. For example, we make tabletops and countertops for bars and restaurants, as well as branded reusable coasters.

Over the last couple of years we’ve started making hand carved bud vases for flower arrangements and displays as well, transferring our wood carving skills to the plastic!

What materials do you use for your craft and where and how do you source raw materials?

We work with LDPE plastic, which stands for Low Density Polyethylene, and is recycling symbol number 4 – this usually comes in the form of plastic carrier bags, and other soft flexible sheet packaging like the material fabric rolls or new sofas are wrapped in, or if you buy clothes online.

We have a free collection scheme for local businesses, who are receiving masses of this plastic when they buy products from their suppliers, as almost everything is either individually wrapped, or at least wrapped into multiples.
This type of plastic is perfect for us because it’s not too runny or hard, so we can knead it and work with it by hand. It flows and stretches super organically, which means that we can create intricate layers and beautiful, often natural-looking marbling.

Can you tell us about the processes used to create your work?

After we’ve removed contaminants from the plastic waste, like cellotape and paper labels, we mix all of our colours by hand using the pigment already present in waste plastic bags, like orange in Sainsburys and blue in off-license bags! We can create whatever colours we want using this method. Then we layer our colours into a ‘cake’ and cut this in different ways to create marbling styles.

It’s so similar to cooking – we even use chef’s knives to cut the plastic.

We then portion our cake into the weights we need for specific products and then we can marble it in our hands just before pressing. We usually press the plastic into sheet form, which we can then cut and finish using woodworking tools and machinery.

What’s the ethos behind Weez and Merl?

We want to spread the message that all materials, including plastics, deserve to be treated with respect – everything we extract from the earth is valuable and useful, so it makes no sense to waste it in the way we currently are, especially when doing so has such severe consequences.

The qualities that plastics can have are absolutely incredible: to be able to be endlessly remelted and repurposed into whatever you want; marble colours together in beautiful and interesting ways; it’s strong, lightweight, waterproof and durable.. just to mention a few things. So by turning plastic from ‘disposable waste’ into something precious that has the capacity to either last for thousands of years, or be endlessly recycled into new things, we hope that this message is conveyed!

Which restaurants have you worked with in Sussex and please provide examples of the type of work you have done?

In Brighton we’ve worked with The Grand Hotel’s restaurant, Cyan, where we made them coasters with their logo, wine menu boards and wall art panels, all in their brand colour scheme, in three different marbling styles.

Cyan Restaurant at the Grand Hotel Brighton. Recycled plastic from Weez and Merl
We can’t wait to work with more Sussex based restaurants, bars and venues. It’s so nice to keep things local!

Where do you eat in Brighton and Sussex for dinner and what do you like about these venues?

The best place we’ve eaten recently is History Pizzeria – we were told by Leonardo, one of the owners, that they were given special permission by the mayor of their home town to be allowed to represent their town making pizzas in the UK – they even have the
certificate hanging on the wall, which is just so heartwarming! Their dough is made by a master baker and is truly authentic and absolutely delicious.

Bonsai Plant Kitchen was also mind-blowingly good, we still think about their food all the time!

Bonsai Plant Kitchen - Winners of Best vegan Food - Brighton Restaurant Awards 2024

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