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  • Writer's pictureAshley Wenger

POP Plastic

What do charcuterie boards, earrings, and side tables all have in common?

They’re all made from recycled plastic in Staunton, Virginia!

Sustainability in Staunton

Scott Tiernan is changing the way his community thinks about sustainability with his business POP Plastic. POP Plastic, which stands for Plastic on Purpose, fabricates furniture, home goods, and accessories out of broken-down, recycled plastic. The idea for his business came to him after a study abroad trip, “I was inspired by the Swedish approach to sustainability while studying in Scandinavia. While touring a design lab in Copenhagen, I learned about Smile Plastics.” Smile Plastics, based in Wales, manufactures supersized, solid surface panels, made from recycled plastic waste, to be used for various commercial and residential projects.

“After I came home, the municipalities canceled the plastic recycling program, so I started experimenting with reused plastic.” With his background in industrial design, he saw an opportunity to create something new and POP Plastic was born. Some of the benefits of POP Plastic include:

  • Reducing plastic waste

  • Creating functional and stylish products

  • Providing an alternative to traditional furniture and home goods made from unsustainable materials

  • Educating the community about the importance of sustainability

The Circular Economy

The idea for POP Plastic is centered around the “circular economy.” Simply put, the circular economy is a model of production and consumption that focuses on reusing materials and minimizing waste. POP Plastic hosts collection events for people in the community to drop off cleaned and de-labeled plastic materials. Then, POP breaks down the materials and refabricates them by melting the plastic pieces in molds, which are used to construct POP’s refabricated designs!

“By adopting a circular economy we can begin to see what waste is not necessary. Our products are designed to be efficiently manufactured; in doing so, more plastic will be used which makes a higher quantity of quality products available and financially more accessible.” The motto of "refabricate, replicate, rethink" truly embodies the circular economy and the innovative spirit of POP Plastic.

Joining S2V

When Scott began pursuing the idea for POP Plastic, he turned to SCCF for help. In the summer of 2021, he joined the Startup Shenandoah Valley (S2V) accelerator program, “Before I came into the S2V program, my business was just an idea. I had a name, and it was poppy, but it was just a few prototypes, a couple of sketches, and a lot of research.” After going through S2V, Scott was able to launch his business into the world of retail. Now, he sells his products at The Foundry POP Ups, in Staunton, as well as at various other POP-up events throughout the year, and is soon to launch the online POP Shop!

“The S2V program equipped me with a lot of information and guidance on how to navigate unforeseen issues that come with a business startup. To me, the program is not only an accelerated learning experience, it’s a really great community of people who want to see other people succeed.” Scott found this community to be invaluable and decided to go through the program again as part of the sixth cohort. A supportive community is so important, especially when starting a new venture, and can make all the difference in the success of a startup. If you’re interested in SCCF’s S2V program, check out our Business Support to learn more about the program.

Follow PlasticOnPurose on Instagram and Facebook to see what Scott is making and to be notified about the next collection event. To learn more about POP Plastic, the circular economy, and the importance of accessible recycling for rural communities, check out the Recycling/Plastics episode of “Life in the Heart Land” on PBS.

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