Plastic 2.0. Speculation project

Piet Zwart Institute MIARD – Thematic design project – Retail Module


This is a story about a very negative outcome that was flipped for the benefit of the economy. After global warming catastrophes, events like floods aggravate the water pollution incidence in cities like Rotterdam, we were surrounded by plastic. As a result a state of emergency is declared and 2 specific approaches were established addressing the plastic excess and worlds paradox dependence on it. The first focused on hi-tech recycling developments, and the second in emergency policy that would include private parties into the collecting, sorting and cleaning processes.

Instead of digging for Oil, which is the base of past economy, communities are “digging” for plastic, the base of this new economy. Where first generation plastic is cheap, but…

What if: What if used plastic becomes very valuable and its recollection determines consumer’s behaviour, making sure plastic ends up in a circular economy and not in the ocean.

In this scenario, community participation would be measured and exchanged by means of an additional currency, city administration would be in charge of infrastructure network for the recollection machines and retailers would be in charge of providing a special service for individuals with good plastic credit.

There are two scales in this scenario to be approached and that complement each other. The city scale, where plastic would not only be collected massively, but would start to be visible in the urban landscape. The Retail scale, interior scale, would be complementary and would address the social component of reward with a special service or experience.

Everything becomes plastic (even more)

The system

Aiming to bring all the plastic excess back in a circular economy, there are two rings

The service/consumer experience and the industry standardised production. The first step is to bring the water/ocean clean up into the city. To do so, all water coming into the city would be filtered accumulated, in this manner; citizens can have access to great quantities of plastic and active collecting participation is encouraged by login in their activities to their profile.

The second step requires people to take their clean “plastics” to the nearest collecting machine; where according to the amount credit will be added to their profile. The machines will be located through out the city in a great network; each of them would have the sensor and machinery to process all disposable plastic into Plastic 2.0.

Plastic credit would be added to a card that can then be swiped to access certain spaces of consumption as a toll: department stores, multi-brand, supermarkets, hardware stores, etc. For consumers with outstanding credit would be eligible to a special customer experience, brandstores will be encouraged to provide this kind of special services also having benefits regulated by the city administration.

Plastic 2.0 would become a new resource used in the industry. The process is cheap because the final product would be modular and stripped off any decorative finishes, plastic looks plastic and becomes a material filter to all sort of construction and interior design products.

Valuable as a new resource, production efficiency and modularity, plastic comes back to this pseudo circular economy based on itself, this cycle might replicate as many times as plastic recycling is possible