Project Case

September 9, 2022

Ecosystem Development for the Upcycle of Industrial Waste

Panasonic Holdings Corporation partners with FabCafe MTRL to prototype new uses for artificial marble scraps

Panasonic Holdings Corporation recently partnered with MTRL, a FabCafe and Loftwork team which specializes in supporting business development based on materials, technology innovation, and cutting-edge research, to develop an ecosystem for upcycling industrial waste materials. Throughout the process, the MTRL team has taken on the roles of project planning, direction, and production.

On this occasion, MTRL is collaborating with four partners to develop new applications and create prototypes through the use of data and the development of efficient data utilization environments. After considering different industrial waste materials, the team has decided to find new uses for the scraps that result from the manufacturing process of artificial marble.

After the initial research and prototyping phases, in July 2022 MTRL organized an invitation-only exhibition on the second floor of FabCafe Tokyo in Shibuya, where creators, startups and business were offered guided tours.

The Recycling Data Book 2021 (original document in Japanese, 「リサイクルデータブック2021」) gathers the total amount of industrial and general waste (refuse) generated in Japan. Among the different figures, the data shows a worryingly large volume of industrial waste being produced every year. Even though waste generation is inherent to our daily life as well as our manufacturing and consumption systems, the aforementioned document manifests that the scale of accumulated refuse goes far beyond our imagination.

Specifically, 9 million tons of industrial waste, which is generally difficult to reduce or recycle, end up in landfills. This situation is not dissimilar to that of other countries around the world, and calls for urgent and efficient countermeasures to be implemented.

Still, the reality is that the initiatives and product solutions aimed at upcycling industrial waste are not truly sustainable for large-scale manufacturing companies.

In order to help tackle this issue, the MTRL team is leading a project that takes on the challenge of designing a new life cycle for waste materials. Throughout the process, the initial planning concept proposed by Panasonic’s internal business development department has been further expanded into specific actions with the support of “_and Material”, a consortium run by Panasonic which focuses on creating new value for materials.

The current project aims at the development of business-oriented uses for industrial waste materials through three approaches: “data utilization,” “secondary use ecosystem,” and “collaboration with creators”.

The material chosen on this occasion is the artificial marble manufactured by Panasonic Housing Equipment Co. This kind of marble is mainly used to fabricate kitchen countertops, and is characterized by its high functionality and elegant design, as well as high strength and stability that allow for its use over prolonged periods of time.

  • Data utilization

    The MTRL team first scanned the unique shapes of the scrap pieces generated during the manufacturing process and turned them into digital data. These have been uploaded to a database so as to create a data utilization environment that multiple creators can access easily.

  • Secondary use ecosystem

    Once the different scrap shapes were registered in the form of digital data, the team proceeded to create a design support environment that encouraged the generation of upcycle solutions by complementing human creativity with the insights provided by data analysis.

  • Collaboration with creators

    Finally, MTRL also invited creators and experts who are passionate about sustainability to prototype together solutions that range from one-of-a-kind products (customization) to mass production (mass customization).

Different solutions have been considered during the ideation process. Some of them use the marble scraps on their own, and other propose different assembling combinations.

This luxurious dining table takes full advantage of the charm of the colorful artificial marble. It can be used in various spaces such as dining rooms and offices, and can also be coordinated with matching stools made of the same material.

A study desk with a unique shape designed for ease of use in ICT-enhanced classrooms and active learning environments. These tables can be arranged in a wide variety of layouts and the combination of artificial marble and wood gives them a warm, joyful touch.

The Iwasawa Brothers and Horikawa Junichiro wondered if it would be possible to create a new product just by utilizing the marble scraps in their original shapes. Processing the scrap pieces inevitably takes time, effort, and money, and results in the creation of more waste. Therefore, this creator team has designed a leg structure that takes advantage of the characteristic shape of the scrap pieces and created furniture prototypes by repeating simulations on the computer. Multiple iterations of this product were displayed at the exhibition.

This prototype aims at taking advantage of the peculiar shapes of the waste scraps so that they can be easily handled with a simple process. The creators chose to cut and assemble the pieces to form a rectangular shape that can be easily applied to multiple situations. At the same time, they also matched the parts so that the border indentations that result from the original manufacturing process created an eye-catching cross-shaped hole in the center of the rectangular panels.

The “Ecosystem development for upcycling industrial waste powered by Panasonic Holdings Corporation” exhibition was held at FabCafe MTRL in Shibuya, Tokyo, for four days, from July 21 to July 24, 2022, to showcase the different results obtained by the project.

The exhibition featured the four prototypes as well as the project process and material samples, and created opportunities for dialogue toward the realization of a recycling-oriented society for those working on sustainability-related business development, spatial and urban development, or space construction and design.

If you are interested in this project…

Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in this project, or looking into implementing artificial marble scrap upcycling systems.

FabCafe MTRL (Loftwork Inc.)

MTRL is a global platform that supports co-creation by creators and the manufacturers of various materials, giving birth to innovation. We work with a range of materials, from common materials such as wood, metal, and cloth, to traditional craft materials and cutting-edge technology fitted with sensors and modules.


re product team, Semba Co.

Semba Co. provides total support for the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of commercial, office, educational, and cultural facilities. We promote “Ethical Design” as the new theme of space design required for a sustainable society, and from 2022, we have set “Future-Friendly Spaces” as our corporate mission.


Iwasawa Brothers (Batta Nation Ltd.)

Under the slogan of “interesting and enjoyable relationships among things and people,” we help support people and organizations. Our expertise lies in the design of spaces, furniture, and other three-dimensional objects, as well as communication design utilizing both digital and analog tools.


Junichiro Horikawa (Orange Jellies)

Graduated from Columbia University in 2009 with a degree in Advanced Architectural Design. Currently works in software development and geometric and algorithmic design in the fields of architecture, furniture design, and art.



  • Loftwork Inc.

    Loftwork is a creative company dedicated to making a positive impact through design with a global community of innovators. Aside from providing innovative design solutions to global clients across various industries, Loftwork also operates a number of owned services and platforms.

    Learn more

    Subscribe to FabCafe Global newsletter for more stories in designs & innovation here.

    Loftwork is a creative company dedicated to making a positive impact through design with a global community of innovators. Aside from providing innovative design solutions to global clients across various industries, Loftwork also operates a number of owned services and platforms.

    Learn more

    Subscribe to FabCafe Global newsletter for more stories in designs & innovation here.

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