This article is part of Precious Plastic, a One Army project tackling the plastic waste problem. You can learn morehere
Imagine your shampoo bottle transformed into a bench you can sit at the park while reading a book, enjoying the sun or making out with your partner 😉
That’s exactly what we’ve done back in 2019 in collaboration with social design studio Tante Netty where we’ve set up a collection system in Woensel West neighbourhood and crafted some exquisite benches from waste to be placed in local parks.
Remember Version 4 when we invited over 100 people to help push the limits of plastic recycling? Well, these people had to sleep somewhere. After a long and, to some degree, creative research we eventually got 10 houses in Woensel West, Eindhoven. Ever thankful to Trudo for that.The neighbourhood was in a renovation phase and the houses were planned to be demolished soon. Hence they were cheap, super cheap. €15.000 to be precise. For 10+ houses for 16 months. Perfect for us. But somewhere along the lines of the deal we also agreed to give something back to the neighbourhood.
Working with Tante Netty, we created Woensel Waste. A project researching plastic collection methods and product design for public spaces. The idea was simple, collect plastic waste from residents and create public furniture for locals to use and enjoy (and maybe reflect on the hidden potentials and value of plastic).
We kicked off the project piloting a collection system involving the families in Woensel West. Did an opening event, gave custom-made bins, explained how to clean and prepare the plastic, placed larger bins in the streets, got local businesses involved and did a fair bit of publicity on local newspapers, radios and social media. Big up Tante Netty product and designer Ludo Schlechtriem’ for the amazing work on this. Eventually, we had about 30 families signing up, a couple of hundred people bringing plastic and a total of 400kg of plastic collected in 2 months.
It was very interesting to learn how plastic types are distributed in urban consumer waste streams. Most of the plastic we collected was HDPE (shampoo bottles, cleaning bottles etc..) with about 215kg. Second was PP with about 120kg and last (even though we were not accepting it) we had the ever-present PET with over 75kg (we sent this straight to the municipality recycling facilities as Precious Plastic doesn't work with PET).
Simultaneously we started to tinker and prototype what the final product could be. After the usual initial phase with wild ideas, we settled for a series of benches to be placed in the parks for people to use and live. The benches feature a sturdy metal frame with multiple thick plastic beams slid in to bring colour and carry the message.
Once ready, the benches were shown in a few exhibitions and galleries across Europe before making their way to their final destination, Woensel West park - where it all started.
The benches are finally installed, just waiting for some sunny days in The Netherlands to see how people will use them and how long it will take before they're vandalised 🙈
What do you think? Like 'em? Would you want them in your local parks? Fire up the conversation on Patreon!