Reimagining colourful classic

Charlotte Goldsmith (5), of Dunedin, shares her extensive crayon skills with Otago Polytechnic...
Charlotte Goldsmith (5), of Dunedin, shares her extensive crayon skills with Otago Polytechnic students (from left) Ben Taylor, Rosie Graham, Elle Chotiwanich and Alice Wassell.PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Celebrating the talents of University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic students who have innovative business ideas is Startup Dunedin’s Audacious programme. In a series for The Star, reporter Simon Henderson talks to some of the students who won prizes for their ideas, and this week gets colourful with the members of Hue.

The humble crayon has been the heart of creativity for children for many years.

But with an increasing desire to find better ways to reduce waste, Otago Polytechnic product design students Ben Taylor, Rosie Graham, Elle Chotiwanich, and Alice Wassell got together to see if they could devise a better crayon that was kinder on the planet.

Mr Taylor said he was inspired by seeing Japanese vegetable crayons.

‘‘I thought why not do that in New Zealand.’’

The team are planning to use $500 won at the Audacious Showcase to help source ingredients for their trial.

‘‘We are still in the testing stage but we are looking

at natural plant wax,’’ Mr Taylor said.

Miss Wassell said for the base of the crayons the team was planning on testing a variety of plant waxes, including candelilla wax, coconut wax, carnauba wax and rice wax.

For the colour of the crayons, the team was researching the use of food waste.

Miss Graham had a background in the arts and had been investigating how different waste could be used to create different colours.

Blue could be created from cabbage and baking soda, orange from pumpkin or carrots, pink and red could be sourced from beetroot and brown could be created from espresso grounds.

‘‘There is also purple that can be made from avocado skins, because it makes a dye.’’

An option was to dehydrate the waste so it could be made into a powder to create different colours.

‘‘So you would then colour the wax with it.’’

The polytechnic collected waste, so the team was looking at whether it could be separated into the different vegetables.

Other options were collecting waste from residential homes or supermarkets for the source ingredients.

Miss Chotiwanich said ordinary crayons were generally made from paraffin wax which could take years to biodegrade.

Plant wax potentially had a quicker biodegradable pathway.

Mr Taylor said once they had some prototypes the team was planning on trialling the results with the target market.

‘‘We have schools lined up to test and see.’’

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