Why we make our knives with recycled plastic, and why it really matters.
From my experience working as a chef I saw first hand how big the plastic waste issue was. As I began to dig deeper into this area and talk to more people, I realised that the recycling system was broken and what we believe is getting recycled, is often not.
Staggeringly, 74% of plastic waste gets taken to landfill or incineration each year, with only 9% actually getting recycled.
As we all know, plastic is having devastating effects on our environment. Yet production is set to treble by 2040. This inspired me to rethink plastic waste and how I could give it a second life.
In March 2021, after a few months of experimenting with plastic waste and building machinery, I launched Allday in my parents garden shed in Norfolk, UK.
To test the market I released small batches of knives every three months.
Each batch featured a different blade type and handle from a different plastic waste source - allowing me to tell the story about that area of the industry where plastic waste was a problem.
This led me to travelling to all ends of the UK to meet some remarkable people doing incredible things within the world of plastic waste.
In April 2021, I partnered with Abel & Cole's dairy farm in Wiltshire to help reduce their environmental impact by melting old broken milk bottles and crates into the handles for my second batch of knives.
In August 2021, as part of Batch 3, I camped for a few weeks off the North-West coast of Scotland to clean beaches and collect plastic waste for that batch's handle.
I cleaned beaches with Julien and Connor at Plastic@Bay - the scale of plastic waste I came across was horrific.
The batch sales model allowed me to tell a new story every three months and slowly evolve the business. The trial and errors and iterations gave me continuous feedback from customers so I could improve the end product.
Listening to people around me and bringing them into the decision making process has been central to the development of the business.
To my surprise the batches have all sold out really quickly (in around 60 seconds!).
For the first 12 months, I worked with an incredible forge in Japan to make my blades. The craftsmen I had the pleasure of working with are some of the most talented people I have come across and I learned so much from them.
However, it never really sat right with me that whilst campaigning for plastic waste issues I was getting my knives made on the other side of the world. My belief has and always will be, to buy good quality products that last a lifetime, and my knives did this.
But I thought, what if I could have incredible blades that lasted forever that were made locally?
So I took a trip to Sheffield, the heart of the cutlery industry, and met with David who is a fourth generation family knife maker and the new knife maker for Allday.
David was telling me that in 1920 there were over 300 knife makers in Sheffield, and now there are five. Unfortunately, the manufacturing of cutlery and knives has moved to Asia, which is more competitive on pricing.
Sheffield has such a rich and incredible history of cutlery making.
I want to support the amazing local craftsmanship and hopefully, in a small way, bring business back to this once thriving area.
Moving forward, all our knives will be made in Sheffield out of plastic waste and recycled steel. As a business we promise to support local industry and put effort into correcting local waste issues - it gives me great excitement to see this circularity come to life in our products.
We will continue to sell limited batch releases every three months. And we have some big collaborations and projects in the pipeline. However, from October 2022 onwards, for the first time, you are able to purchase a core range of knives directly from our website.
I hope these knives spark conversation in your kitchen about the issues we face and how we as cooks can collectively bring about the change we need to see.
Thank you for being part of the journey so far.