Ro p l a s t i c p r i z e
Rossana Orlandi Gallery / Milan • Italy / 2019
Plastic is a global problem and each of us can become part of the solution.
Plastic was invented in the late 1800’s. Since it’s invention, over 8 billion metric tons have been globally produced and more than 50% has been discarded or incinerated. This number is constantly growing: over 322 million metric tons are produced each year, and 8 million metric tons end up in our oceans. This is threatening the health of the marine ecosystems and sea-life. All plastic that is not properly disposed of is toxic in nature, not only at sea but on land. The invention of this class of materials was revolutionary and still today polymers are essential in many industries and goods. While researchers are constantly developing biodegradable polymers, what can be done to lessen the burden of oil-based plastics on the ecosystems? Today plastic trash is one of the biggest resources available: when transformed plastic has huge possibilities and potentials.
We need to embrace the power of design and acknowledge the impact it can have. Ro Plastic Prize wishes to unite the design community in the challenge to use plastic waste before it reaches the oceans and to promote the next generation of design. Re-using, recycling and reinventing plastic are the challenges that this prize wishes to bring to the global design community.
Design is a process before it becomes a product. We know that linear systems are no longer sustainable, especially with the advent and widespread use of synthetic and composite materials. Circular Economy seems to be the only compatible way to contrast the high demand of limited resources for a growing population. Our generational goal is to mimic nature’s cycles of birth, growth, death and regeneration – which in the life of our things means conception, product development, production, distribution, use, disposal and regeneration. In one word: better design. Low cost objects are designed to have a short lifespan, and this has altered the way we perceive much of what we use. The temptation to have new things has replaced our affection towards them. In the past decade plastic has gone from the material of choice to a critical, harmful ingredient. On the other hand, in the collective imagination, recycled plastic is poor, ugly and second rate. In one word, it’s waste, and so it should remain. In reality, it is an abundant resource and the challenge is to engineer it into materials and products that are beautiful, functional and ecological. Good design is the best way to reverse consumers’ approach to recycled goods. It can be done.