The Plastic Lab

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The Plastic Lab Exploring opportunities for local engaged recycling

by Maria Berg-LeirvĂĽg The Oslo School of Architecture and Design Fall Diploma 2016


Thank you, to my supervisors Nick Stevens & Geir Ă˜xseth

Abstract In my project I have focused on plastic recycling and explored opportunities for local engaged recycling. The project presents The Plastic Lab, a strategy to boost plastic recycling. The Plastic Lab is a local recycling center I believe should exist today, parallel to today's system. The Plastic Lab houses the machines that can recycle plastic and also collaborates with local people. This is a place where people can come and see the whole recycling process, test machines and learn about recycling. The project presents three examples from possible collaborations between The Plastic Lab and locals. First scenario includes school children where they bring waste and make their own rulers. The second scenario are a collaboration with the brand Melange, where locals can switch their empty Melange bottle into a measuring spoon made of the bottle. Third scenario focus on the aesthetics and aims to inspire designers to use plastic waste in product design.


8 Executive Summary 8 9 10 11 12

The project The context My motivation for this project How I have done this The outcome and contribution

14 Background 15 Why plastic recycling 17 Problem 18 Relevant projects 19 Conceptual design 20 Ocean debris 23 Precious Plastic Project 24 Design ambition 26 My intended outcome of this project 27 The context 28 Possibilities & limitations 31 My insight in this project are from

32 Process 34 38 40 44

Waste hierarchy Earth overshoot day Understanding the waste system A summary of my findings

56 The material exploration & the machines 57 62 66 70 72

The material The shredder The sheet press The extruder The injection moulding machine

76 Concept development & project outcomes 79 The Plastic Lab 80 1. Engaging children 88 User testing 92 2. Engaging brands 98 3. Inspire to use plastic waste in product design 118 Reflection of my project 120 References 121 Thank you

Executive Summary The Project

We live in a world where we consume our planets resources at an unsustainable rate. We produce more waste than ever before, and the climate change issue is a problem of today. We need to change and we need to act now.

we are reducing the emissions compared to make new virgin plastic material. The recycling process is normally done far away from the people, at big stations outside of town. A process people normally don’t participate in.

Plastic is part of the issue, because it is made from oil. Ideally I would like all the oil to just stay where it is, under the sea away from people. But I am not in power to do so. What I can do, is to encourage us to take care of the plastic around us. Taking care of the plastic means to recycle it instead of burning it as waste.*

The project is opening up our minds to new ways of recycling. I am suggesting to do this in a smaller scale and in a local way. Today our plastic waste is sorted and recycled in Germany. Suggesting a recycling system in peoples local area, makes it possible for the locals to engage in the process. Facilitating for people to transform plastic waste to become raw material, semi-manufactured material or even new products.

Once oil become plastic it can live for so many years. It can change from being a bottle to being a fleece sweater. Plastic can have different shapes and different functions. But when we burn it, the material is gone forever. There are reasons for why we should recycle. To utilize non-renewable resources in an optimal way, through keeping them in circulation as long as possible. By doing so


I belive that people will get a better relation to waste if they get the opportunity to participate in the recycling process. Hopefully this will contribute to a better understanding of why we recycle our waste, and why we have to continue to do so. And become better at it.


The Context

The Dutch designer Dave Hakkens* has done a project where he made four recycling machines.

To discuss a new business proposal for a recycling center and how this could involve the community.

Dave Hakkens*, a Dutch designer, has made his own machines for recycling plastic. They are all based on industrial machines, but modified to be less complex and more flexible. He has shared his designs online so everyone can make them.

This place is similar to a workshop, but instead of housing traditional machines to make wood products, it is a place with machines to recycle plastic and make plastic products. The workers knows how to work with the machines and want to share their knowledge. The Plastic Lab should be in the middle of an urban area, easy for everyone to visit.

Through these machines he makes it possible for anyone to make products out of plastic. Because of the size of these machines, they can be put up anywhere and be more accessible than where you find today’s main recycling areas. Normally located outside of to town. I have used his machines as a starting point for my own project. Through my process I have explored the potential of local engaged recycling. To engage around the topic and make people participate in the process of recycling. The Plastic Lab (a part of the title for this diploma) is a non-existing place today, but a place I imagine could exist. It is a mean for explaining my design outcomes and how they are related. Through my design outcome I wish to start a discussion around new ways of plastic recycling.

The Plastic Lab invites and collaborate with a wide range of individuals, organizations, institutions, brands, stores, designers, neighborhoods and more. The Plastic Lab exemplifies local plastic recycling in collaboration with these local parts. Both parts will benefit from collaboration. The Plastic Lab will benefit financially by being a platform, while the collaboration partners will gain knowledge and be part of a local initiative. I have focused on the last part and more will be explained in the design outcome part. I have chosen to work with three of the possible collaboration scenarios, and present the product outcome.



My motivation for this project

Designers today have a certain responsibility when it comes to climate change and sustainability. We are the ones designing new products. Products that might live for a long time, or products soon becoming waste. This topic is challenging, because a part of being a designer is to make (beautiful) objects people want and need. This is also something I love. By doing so I might contribute to more waste. To challenge myself, and my own discipline, I chose to work with plastic recycling. Plastic recycling is a process. The plastic material, looked upon as waste, need to go through several steps before it become something new. It needs to be collected, sorted, shredded and re-melted. At the end of the process the material has transformed into something else. If I as a designer can make products with waste instead on new virgin plastic, where does that put me in the discussion of sustainability? Am I excused to make beautiful designs if they are made by waste? During the process my motivation for this project changed. From mainly focus on the aesthetic part, I discovered a potential of engaging people to take part of the recycling process. I belive that to focus on the people involved, instead of only the product, will lead to a bigger change of attitude in our society.


How I have done this project

I decided early in my process that I wanted to make the product outcome in plastic, preferably in plastic waste. Working with the real material gives me a deeper understanding of its possibilities and limitations. I mean that making the final outcome in the real material is a key factor to show the potential and authenticity in my project. Because of this decision, a big part of my process involved testing and experimenting with the machines I had available. Figuring out how they work, their limitations and possibilities. Equally important with this project has been to ask a lot of who, how and where questions. I had to do this in order to take Dave Hakkens project a step further, and to evolve the project in the direction I mean is meaningful for me and also for people around me. Who are involved into this? Who are collecting waste? Who are making the products? Where are the machines? Who are operating them? Who benefit from being part of this? These questions have been central in the part of exploring the system and possible scenarios around The Plastic Lab, more explained in the process part. In this diploma I have worked parallell with exploring the machines, the material and the scenarios. Through mapping, sketching, making mock-ups, working with the machines, testing and failing, discussing with people around me, user testing and a lot more, I have gained meaningful insight and learnt a lot. This has been a challenging project where I have learnt a lot.


The outcome and contribution

The outcome of my project are three illustrative proposal on how to engage the local community in plastic recycling. They are all part of The Plastic Lab, an imaginary local recycling center facilitating for local recycling. The illustrative proposal wish to inspire us to be better at recycling. The first proposal are aiming towards kids so they can learn about the topic. The second proposal are inviting brands to collaborate connecting The Plastic Lab with specific waste and people. The third proposal show the aesthetic expression and beauty of the plastic waste. These suggestions are manifested through physical objects, representing the scenario of local engagement. I want to highlight that the physical objects in this project are caricatured objects and should not be judged as designed products. I belive my project contribute to put the discussion of recycling on the agenda. To connect people with waste and to improve our attitudes around the topic.




This chapter contains the following

15 Why plastic recycling 17 Problem 18 Relevant projects 19 Conceptual design 20 Ocean debris 23 Precious Plastic Project 24 Design ambition 26 My intended outcome of this project 27 The context 28 Possibilities 31 My insight in this project are from


Why plastic recycling

As a designer today we have a certain responsibility when it comes to climate change and sustainability. This topic is challenging, because a part of being a designer is to make (beautiful) objects people want and need. And by doing so we might contribute to more waste. To challenge myself, and my own discipline, I have chosen to work with plastic recycling because I was curious on how I as a designer can contribute to this topic. The reason for choosing plastic recycling is because I discovered a project done by dutch designer Dave Hakkens. His project is called Precious Plastic where he has designed four plastic recycling and production machines. They are all based on industrial machines, but modified to be less complex and more flexible. He has made a plastic shredder, an extrusion machine, injection moulding machine and a compression machine. He has shared the information open-source online on how to make the machines. This makes it possible to make the machines anywhere in the world, as long as you have the tools and material to make them. This project made me curious. What can be made by these machines? Can we make products from waste that actually look nice and are useful? Are these machines meant to be in areas where a recycling system doesn’t exist or can they be placed in the modern society? Can these machines be a system parallell to our main waste system? Can these machines be utilized if they are placed in a urban area like Oslo? And what is the value they have then? Can a small recycling system have impact on the bigger one? So where his project ends, my project starts. Overall I see possibilities and problems with these machines, and that is part of what I want to explore in my diploma.

Last semester I went with my course to Kenya for one month. To be there and observe how they live their life, have left a big impression on me. Everything they do is so local. The meat they eat is by killing their own animals. The vegetable they grow themselves. If anything is broken someone will fix it. And if they can’t they will take it apart and use the different parts for something else. Because they live in scarcity they have to take care of everything they own. Everything around you is a resource. You can either eat it or get money from it. The streets seems messy and you can see pieces of what once was a plastic bag. But what you see is what exist. There is nothing more. When you see some plastic bags in the streets, that is the only waste they produce. There is no car picking up your food waste. No station for used clothes. There is no system. I must say I am pretty happy that we have a lot of systems here in Norway. Being in Africa can be somehow frustrating without any systems for anything. But what I want to stress is this gap between how the western world used to be (a bit like Africa) and how it is today. Because we live in a society full of big systems dealing with our waste, our money, our education and so on - I think we are loosing our connection to these systems. Because they are so big, they become so abstract and hard to relate to. I am especially thinking about our waste system. The most amount of waste we experience is when our trash can is full. Then we go out with it, and it is empty. Ready to be filled again. That system is not showing you the whole picture. It allows you to consume and waste as much as you like to. The truck will be there to pick it up anyway. And it will never show you how much waste you are responsible for and it will never show you what the waste can become.


The shredder

The extruder

The injection moulding

Dave Hakkens machines -


The press


Some of the main issue with climate change are our lack of understanding the big picture and our ability to change our behavior. I think a lot of us can relate to this. The consequences of climate change doesn’t happen outside my home. It happens in Africa or other places far away. And because we are here in the north, it is hard for us to understand how it is to live with a more unstable weather and warmer temperature (and a lot more changes). We are not experiencing the change. But yet we (western world) are the ones responsible. Even though it is a complicated theme and both individuals and bigger companies are involved, there is a certain attitude in our society that I mean we have to change. The attitude of being indifferent, and the lack of not understanding the big picture. It is easy to say that the big companies are the one with the power to change. But who are the ones in these companies? It is people. A lot of individuals. Individuals making decisions together. And if these individuals really did care about our planet, they would act differently.

Just recently it was decided that the fund of the University of Oslo will become fossil free in a couple of years. They don’t want to receive money related to fossil fuels anymore. This is because the students have put pressure on the University and therefore they have to listen and change. This is an example of where individuals go together and make a bigger change, because they all strongly believe we need to. Since it is hard for us to see the big picture of climate change, I will focus on the small picture of it. How can a smaller recycling system make the gap smaller between understanding the big picture and inspire to engage in the topic. To do something that is big and abstract, smaller and more clear. The challenge with doing this diploma will be to show that I contribute with my own innovation to this topic and how the machines made by Dave Hakkens have gained from my research.


Relevant projects

The awerness of the global warming issue is growing and designers are putting it on the agenda.


Ryter design

Ryter Design has reused the plastic bottle to become a vase or a pencil cup. By doing so the “new� product get a different fuction but the same look as the plastic bottle.


Conceptual design James Shaw has made a plastic extruding gun. Forming recycled HDPE into exciting and extravagant forms that celebrate the qualities of plastic.

The Plastic Gun by James Shaw


Ocean debris

The amount of ocean waste is becoming more and more clear for us. It is a huge problem. Even here in Norway they have now found fish with plastic in its belly. Fish we eat. Designers and companies are starting to look at the waste as a resource. Using the plastic from the sea to avoid the use of virgin plastic.

U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Adidas teamed up with Parley, an organization raising awareness against ocean pollution. By transforming ocean waste to a thread they are rethinking design and help stop ocean plastic pollution.

Adidas Ultraboost Uncaged with Parley Ocean Plastic™

Sea Chair by Studio Swine

The Sea Chair by Studio Swine is made from plastic recovered from the ocean. Together with local fishermen, marine plastic is collected and processed into at stool at sea.


Bento box by Andrew Simpson

Created using Sarah King and Andrew’s new ‘Marine Debris Bakelit’ – a new material created using washed up plastic collected from Australian beaches.

I will not work with upcycling of plastic products simply because I want to explore the aesthetic around melting plastic and working with the machines. I will also not work with plastic from the ocean, but to reuse plastic at an earlier stage before it gets in the ocean. I will focus on the waste related to household.


Precious Plastic Project

Creations presented on made by the machines by Dave Hakkens

Above is some of the creations made by the machines. I don’t think they are much nice. If products are going to be made by plastic waste, it is either important they look like something you want, or be something of value. This again is decided by other factors, such as who are making it, what is it made of and what is it.


Design ambition

I want to explore the possibilities of local plastic recycling. Exploring if there are any advantages of a small scale system. Not to replace our existing waste system, but to explore what potential these machines can bring. Since this is a product design diploma I will deliver producs relevant to the contexts I explore. Through my process I will discover if I will deliver one final product or rather focus on a broader repertoar of products.

My goal is to build a stronger relation between waste and people through local engaged recycling. To facilitate for people to take part of the process will hopefully be a valuable experience that will inspire people to take more care of our resources and recycle more. The result could be one or more products representing different ways of local engaged recycling.


I have an interest in material exploration and want to learn more about plastic, plastic recycling and local production of plastic products. I think this will be valuable for me as a designer. I hope I will discover an aesthetic potential through my exploration process. I also hope to inspire other designers to work with the same topic and see the same possibilities that I do.


My intended outcome of this project

A lot has changed during the process. The main change has been to leave the focus on the aesthetics of the material. Instead the project is about engaging people in the process of recycling. In the beginning of my process I focused on the material itself and to communicate our overconsumption through conceptual products. Through my research I asked myself: how can people get a real understanding of the problem? Will this be through conceptual products? The project took a new direction when I started to explore for whom a local recycling system could be for. I discovered there is a lot of potential in including people in the process. Both when it comes to educating around the topic and also when it comes to awareness of the problem. A potential I can’t see have been explored much before. However according to an article* a district in Amsterdam offers their residents discounts at local shops in exchange for their plastic waste. The people involved in this system said they had improved their waste disposal habits as a result of beeing part of this. They got a relation to the amount of waste they where responsible of, and therefore changed their habits. As a result of my discovery, the expected outcome of my project will now be about the engagement and knowledge building around recycling. As a designer it is important to me to communicate this in an inspirational way. Hopefully my project can inspire other designers to use my project as a starting point for them. To boost plastic recycling.



The context

Dave Hakkens has made four machines and shared information on how to build them yourself. He has made these machines so anyone anywhere can collect plastic and recycle. He focus mainly on the fact that plastic waste is laying around everywhere for free. Especially waste floating in the sea, wasting our beaches. Because he has developed these machines, it is possible to pick up the waste and make something with the plastic. He is encouraging people to put up the machines to start their own plastic recycling workshop and clean up their neighborhood. The machines he has made are some of the same machines used in industrial manufacturing of plastic products. A lot of the products around us are made by the injection moulding machine. Through these machines he makes it possible for anyone to make products out of plastic. Normally this is only done by the big industy. I like Dave Hakkens machines because it opens up to an unfamiliar area. He bridges the gap between industry and people, making it possible to work with plastic as a material. To let people deal with plastic waste themselves. What triggered me the most with this project, was how ugly and weird the creations were. If people are going to recycle plastic and make something, then what will they make? I saw this as an opportunity to take his project further through my diploma, and explore if these machines have the potential I belive they could have. As mentioned before, the project changed focus. From focus on only the product to focus more on the people involved. Research done about our main recycling system gave me valuable insight. I found that people don’t really know what happen to the waste. Because they are not aware how important it is to recycle and don’t

know what the waste can become, people don’t care. I see this as an opportunity to place the machines in a local area close to people. The background for this decision is explained more in the process part. To have a place to facilitate for a local engaged recycling can have a potential of reaching people in different ways. Neighbours can drop by and deliver their waste. The kids from the school nearby can visit and join in recycling and make products they can bring back to school. Local designers can join and make their design by using the machines. Artists can be invited to make an exhibition around recycling and draw attention to the topic. The outcome of participating in local recycling can vary. The neighbours deliver their waste because they know their waste will become something new. The kids will learn the value of waste and experience how waste is a resource and how it transforms from waste to product. Designers can explore the material and use the waste to make new products. The possibilities are many, and the outcome too. This will be a place where people can learn and be inspired to get into the habit of recycling. Because of this findings, explained more in the process part, I am suggesting a place where this is facilitated. I call this place The Plastic Lab, a local recycling center. It is a mean for me to explain my design contribution. In essence I am suggesting and discussing a business proposal for a recycling center. The Plastic Lab are collaborating with individuals, schools or companies. Maybe even volunteers from the neighborhood. The Plastic Lab will be a system parallell to todays’ big recycling system. It will be a place for people to learn and hopefully inspire to become better in recycling.


Possibilities & limitations

I have explored the potential of local engaged recycling. We live in a society surrounded by big systems, and I was curious what a smaller and local recycling system can bring with it in different contexts. What kind of effect can it have to the people involved? What can I as a designer bring into this topic, and contribute with? How will my experience in working with the machines and exploring different contexts affect my outcome? Will my findings unravel new possibilities? Who are engaged into this, what will they make, and what will they get out of it? I have met these questions and done my project through an explorative approach, where it wasn’t on clear problem defined, but as an area worth to explore.


I decided early in my process that I wanted to make the product outcome in plastic, preferably in plastic waste. Working with the real material gives me a deeper understanding of its possibilities and limitations. Because of this choise, a big part of my process involved testing and experimenting with the machines. Figuring out how they work, their limitations and possibilities. I strongly belive the product outcome should be made by me (or other locals) with the machines available and with local waste. This will be a key factor to show the potential and autenthicity in the project.


I started this project with a focus to explore the machines, the material and the proper context for it to be in. Throughout the project the focus of the project changed. In the beginning I thought the most possibilities in the project was around the product. Later I discovered that I saw more potential in including the society into the process, exploring different scenarios.


My insight in this project are from:

Reading about the climate issue Learning about our waste system Learning about our attitudes around cumsuming and recycling Research around the machines Order a shredder and work with it Discover an old injection moulding machine here at school that no one have used in 6 years. And then work a lot with it to figur out its possibilities and limitations. Discover the ebablock Alu material being perfect for mould making Making moulds with the CNC mill here at school Making moulds in Solidworks Being at a hackathon at Fellesverkstedet and working with their press machine

Pressing plastic sheets Lasercut the sheet made in the press Melting plastic in a saucepan Pressing with own body weight Mix new and old plastic to make objects Mix different kind of plastic Work with the color from the waste Explore how the machines and the people involved decides the aesthetic of the product Explore the uniqueness in the product made in a local recycling process Explore concepts and products through sketching Explore suitable concepts and scenarios through sketcing and discussions Making mock-ups User testing to recycle plastic and make products with youths and a friend A lot of discussions with supervisors, the workshop at school and my lovely class mates



Through research and mapping I got an understanding of the problem I have explored. I have connected the insight from mapping wiht the insight from working with the machines, leading to three design proposals.

This chapter contains the following: 34 38 40 44


Waste hierarchy Earth overshoot day Understanding the waste system A summary of my findings

My process

This project has been challenging, but I have learnt a lot and I am satisfied with the outcome. Sometimes you need to go back to look into you findings and bring forward those ideas with most potential and possible impact. In this project it was more relevant to present three directions as the outcome, compared to one. I belive the possibilities for local engaged recycling are many and in the future I hope more designer chose to work with this exiting topic.



Waste hierarchy

EU has made a waste hierarchy. We should do a lot of what is on top and do less of what is at the botton part. This pyramid is intendend for everyone to follow. Individuals, companies and contries. Here is how I illustrate the facts.

guide for recycling waste by EU

prevent waste if you can’t prevent waste, then…

prepare for reuse

if you can’t prepare for reuse, then…

material recycle if you can’t recycle, then…

energy recover (burn into heat & electricity) if you can’t energy recover, then…

disposal landfill if no other alternative is available.


In reality it looks like this. Only 38 % of our waste is material recycled. 59 % of our waste is burned into heat and electricity. 3 % is ending up at a landfil.

guide for recycling waste by EU

prevent waste if you can’t prevent waste, then…

prepare for reuse

if you can’t prepare for reuse, then…

38 %

59 %


material recycle if you can’t recycle, then…

energy recover (burn into heat & electricity) if you can’t energy recover, then…

disposal landfill if no other alternative is available.

numbers from Energigjenvinningsetaten i Oslo

numbers from Energigjenvinningsetaten i Oslo


We need to focus more on the top part of the pyramid, if we are going to change the way we treat our resources. This is also where my project foscus. Most obviously is it that I focus on material recycle and to make something new out of waste. I aslo think the people that get involved and take part of a local recycling system learn and get a better understanding of the fact that waste can become something new. And inspire to recycle more.

guide for recycling waste by EU

prevent waste if you can’t prevent waste, then…

prepare for reuse

if you can’t prepare for reuse, then…

material recycle if you can’t recycle, then…

energy recover (burn into heat & electricity) if you can’t energy recover, then…

disposal landfill if no other alternative is available.


The products I make will be a part of this pyramid and a part of a loop. Contributing to a bigger focus on the top part of the pyramid. This loop will then be smaller than the loop of the bigger waste system, including people to take part.


prevent waste if you can’t prevent waste, then…

prepare for reuse

if you can’t prepare for reuse, then…

material recycle if you can’t recycle, then…

energy recover (burn into heat & electricity) if you can’t energy recover, then…

disposal landfill if no other alternative is available.


Earth Overshoot Day

Earth overshoot day marks the day when that year’s demand for natural resources exeeds Earth ability to produce them.


On August 8, 2016 we began to use more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year. The date for all the previously years are just where the color changes from green to orange in the figure. We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, over harvesting forests and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester.

If the whole world consume (and live) the way we do in Norway, we would need 2,8 of the planet Earth. 50 % of the household waste from homes in Norway are not recycled. Every Norwegian must get rid of over 15 kilos of plastic waste each year.

So there is no doubt we need to change.

numbers from & Energigjenvinningsetaten i Oslo & Grønt Punkt Norge


Understanding the waste system

Visiting HRA, my local waste management station


I visited the waste management station responsible for my hometown Hønefoss. At home we have some big plastic bags where all the household waste is collected, and once a month it is picked up by a waste truck. They all drive to this station where the plastic are compressed. Later a new truck will pick it up and drive the plastic to Germany, or put it on a train to Germany. In Germany they sort the plastic in the different types and make them into raw material again. This is then sold to different factories all over Europe that want to buy recycled plastic. The waste travel a lot to be sorted, recycled and become a new product.


Visiting Energigjenvinningsetaten i Oslo

This is an overview over the amount of waste from households that has been material recycled. In total 38 % was material recycled, which means that 62 % of our waste was burned.

Sometimes they open up the bags and check what is inside the general waste. To see what people put inside. A lot of it is food (green), and some of it is plastic (blue).

Avfallsanalyser 2015


In Oslo we recycle three different types of waste. The plastic goes into blue bags, food into green bags and the rest goes in all other types of bags called the general waste. Glass and metal are recycled in special containers in your neighborhood. All the waste in the general waste is burned. There is no system for checking what is inside peoples general waste. The citizens need to do this themselves. Looking into our waste system and get an understanding how it really works, makes it clear for me how much responsible each and one of us have. We all have to do it well for the system to work. If we don’t care and don’t recycle, then no one will sort our waste for us.


A summary of my findings

“ I don’t really feel that recycling makes a difference” Often repeated while talking about recycling

things we own


becomes waste

in the trash


They talk about circular economy but 62 % is burned


waste management company




transported away


The waste that is not burned is transported to Germany. After the waste is sorted in ther, it still has a long way to travel. Maybe to a factory in Holland that will make new products and later send them to Norway.


1. todays system is big and people don’t really know what happens to the waste

2. we burn too much of the waste! 3. if people could take part of a

more local system, a smaller loop, I believe they will begin to view waste as a resource.

A local and closed loop will provide a sence of honesty and transperency in a area that is normally hidden. A small system redefining what recycling can be.


A local and closed loop


When transforming plastic waste to raw material or new products, you need to go through several steps. First you need to find waste and sort it. Second the waste needs to be shredded into small pieces. Now it is different ways to treat the material. It can be melted and pressed into sheets of plastic. It can be moulded and shaped.






raw material

semimanufactured material or new products














In between these steps it is a lot to explore. This has been a big part of my project. To open up my mind to who can be involved in a local recycling system, where could it be, and how is it done.



How would it be if waste from a school were collecteed by the kids with borrowed equipment made stuff the kids wants. What about the waste from a local cafe, collected with a brand and through a local initiative makes products for personal use. These scenarios, as I call them, open up our mind on how to engage the local community.


To work with these combination has been very interesting. Ther are a lot of new combinations opening up for new ways of recycling.




Insight from exploring the different scenarios from the previous spread has led to the creation of The Plastic Lab. This is s strategy to boost plastic recycling. It is a imaginary place I belive should exist in todays urban areas. The Plastic Lab houses the machines needed to do plastic recycling, and collaborate with the local people nearby. Boosting the knowledge around plastic recycling. More will be explained in the design proposal part


Material exploration and the machines

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57 62 66 70 72


The material The shredder The sheet press The extruder The injection moulding machine

The material My family collect the plastic waste in a big plastic bag. I opened the bag to get an understanding of what kind of waste my family was responsible of. In the next spread you will see the content of our waste. The first I understand when I started to explore plastic, is the huge variety of the material. The waste from my family are in polypropylene (PP), polysterene (PS), high-density polyethylene (HD-PE), polyethylene (PET) and other.


Three weeks of plastic waste from a family of four




The shredder

The extruder

The injection moulding

The press

Dave Hakkens machines -

The starting point for my project was these machines. During the project I have not used exactly these machines, but used what was available or similar to the machines above. The shredder I ordered from Germany, the extruder I tested through a contact of Fellesverkstedet, the school had an old injection mould here at shool, and the press I borrowed from Fellesverkstedet. I have used my insight from exploring the machiens into my concept development.


The Shredder


I ordered a shredder from and made a table for it myself. The shredder makes it possible to get the plastic into smaller pieces. Before shredding it is smart to sort the different types of plastic, and shred the ones who are the same. This machine has been central throughout my process.


Isak and Ă˜ystein think the shredding ws fun. More of this in the concept part.

Sorting into different types of plastic.



The sheet press

Fellesverkstedet is a workshop open for the publec, with fasilities and assistance. They arranged a hackathon regarding Oslo Innovation week. They have also heard about the machines by Dave Hakkens, and they made their own little press. They intended to use it to recycle left over parts from 3D printing. This was a very interesting day wher I got in contact with people with much of the same thoughts as me. During the day we pressed som sheets of PLA plastic and used the laser cut to make some boxes.


Shredded plastic in the smoothie maker, placed into a steel box.

Heating up and melding the plastic.

Pressing the plastic with the sheet press.

Colling down in water.


The plastic sheets look very beautiful! Each and one get their own look according to what color you add.


After we had made the sheet, we cut it out in the laser cutter. This is was something the suggested and wanted to test, and it went very vell. When something can be laser cut it opens up a lot of possibilities to what to cut out. This is something I will bring with me into the concept development phase. Also this is a process it is very easy to do, and do not require a lot of equipment.


The Extruder

Aman from Bitraf borrowed med the extruder. The extruder transform the waste into a thread. The thread are still a bit hot when it comes out of the machine, sü it is possible to melt it together. This machine was very slow. I think it was fun to test it, but I don’t think I will work more with this machine.



The Injection moulding machine

This machine is the one I have worked the most with. It has been at AHO for several year but no one have used it the last six years. When we made the firs mould and I and Geir got it to work, it was so fun! The result looks very nice. The orange color is the material already in the machine (polypropylene). At the bottom picture I have shredded up a black take away box and added into the machine. It worked very well and gave me lots of hope and expectations for this machine.


Here you see Geir and the machine

Material tests with take away box


Because of the way the material are put into the machine, you get a color gradient. Starting from orange to white. The irregularities are because the mould need to be warm to get an even flow of the material.


The material moves vertical down into the mould


Concept Development & Project Outcomes

This chapter contains the following:

79 The Plastic Lab 80 1. Engaging children 88 User testing 92 2. Engaging brands 98 3. Inspire to use plastic waste in product design 118 Reflection of my project 120 References 121 Thank you


Findings from mappings and my experience from working with the machines and materials, have led me to the outcomes I now will present you.


The Plastic Lab



The Plastic Lab is s strategy to boost plastic recycling. It is a imaginary place I belive should exist in todays urban areas. The Plastic Lab houses the machines needed to do plastic recycling, and collaborate with the local people nearby. Boosting the knowledge around plastic recycling. I belive there is not one answer for how local recycling can be done, but several answers. I will present three different ways to engage the local community in plastic recycling. My three design proposals are mainly not about the product itself, but about the possibilities around including local people in plastic recycling. When people can join and experience the process or recycling, I belive it will affect peoples relation to waste. They will get the possibility to see directly how waste has gone from waste to something new. Hopefully this will make people better to recycle, making the recycling loop more transparent.


Design proposal 1.

Engaging children

This concept are a result of working with the press and se how easy it is to press sheets of plastic. A sheet can later be laser cut, which means there are endless possibilities of what to cut. By engaging the youth we establish good attitudes at an early age. Participate and get a bigger understanding of how waste is a resource. They can participate with their own waste from home, engaging their parents too. Make something together.



What about them joining in an press some sheets of plastic, that later become a cutting board or a house for birds.


I put up a little working station for myself and pressed a lot of sheets from different materials. The materials I have mainly worked with is polypropylene. It is used a lot in households and food, and when melting it is not the most dangerous of the plastic. Of course this activity should be done in a good ventilated are.



Waste from pink and white box A bit of ketchup & mustard bottle Some ginger bread box & lid

The backside

Waste from white box. Small pieces of ginger bred box and lid

The backside

Mostly ginger bread box with small pieces from the lid and a bit from an ice cream box

The backside

Black and white ice cream box

The backside

Head & shoulders shampoo and Redken conditioner

Box and lid from ginger bread

Ketchup and mustard bottle

Pink an white box Ginger bread lid

Mustard bottle Ice cream box


As mentioned before it is not about designing the perfect shape of the object, but to find a product cathegory that makes sense to the people involved. After pressing the sheet above, made from kethup and mustard, I tested to laser cut it. After som testing it worked very vell.


The product proposal for the kids is to make them participate in pressing the sheets an then to laser cut out rulers they can use at shool. They can bring waste from home, and the waste they use to press with, will decide on how it look. Because it is possible to see in the product, exactly what kind of waste it is, it becomes a connecton between people and the product. You can actually see the mustard container in the ruler.


User testing

I wanted to test how the youth responded to this, so I asked Isak and Ă˜ystein if they would join. They are 12 years. Since the schools laser cutter was broken, I figured out we could press some sheets and then use the ginger bread shape to melt out shapes. To become christmas decoration. The user testing went very well. They learnt a lot about plastic, and enjoy taking part in the activity. Especially they enjoyed the shredding. One thing that could have been better was the effect from the heating. We had to wait for 20 minutesfor the plastic to meld. Thenn they went a bit crazy throwing bottles and doing stuff kids do. But I guess that is natural. For me it was very exiting to experience that what I have learnt can move on to the kids. It was very valuable for me to test with them, and see their excitement.




Isak & Ă˜ystein with their pressed plastic creation


Design proposal 2. Engaging Brands

When recycling plastic waste you need to sort the plastic into the different types. By collaborating with one bran and their product, the sourse of waste will be known. This design proposal is encouraging a collaboration between brands and The Plastic Lab. The brand can do marketing around this colaboration, and let peole know they can come to The Plastic Lab with the brands product when it is empty and become wast. You deliver a brands waste and The Plastic Lab will make something new out of that. The new product could be related to the brands identity or the area the brand are in. The brand will gain from this collaboration by connecting to its costumers and contribute to attention around plastic recycling. The Plastic Lab will get a small finencial contribution from the brand, and connect to people. Letting people know they exist.


Print screens from my phone after a visit to the local Rema. I also looked after what kind of plastic they were made of, to get an overview and to see what kind of potential waste can be mixed when recycling.




My product suggestion suitable for a collaboration

As an illustrative product I decided to use Melange as a brand to collaborate with and to make a relevant product. Melange is used for baking, and a relevant product could be the measuring spoon.

I made a mould for the shape and tested it with material inside the injection moulding machine. The shape of the measure spoon is an archetype of a measure spoon.


A measuring spoon made with the plastic from the bottle



Design proposal 3. Inspire to use plastic waste in product design

This concept is building on my insight from working with the injection moulding machine and the CNC drill. Insight 1 from the injection moulding machine: In production of products made of virgin plastic, they add color to get the color they want. In this project I have worked with plastic from waste. This material already have a color from before. The product made from plastic waste will therefore take the color from the waste. The injection mould keep the material in a vertical tube. Inside this tube is a smaller tube pressing the material into the mold. When refilling with more material, the new material will lay on top of what was already there. The material is therefore in layer, and the order is decided by what order I put it in. I see this as an opportunity I want to explore more. How the aesthetic expression is affected by the specific waste it is made from.


When the material goes into the mold, the pressure from the machine will mix it in a random way. Since I have used plastic with different color the results look a bit like marble. Marble, I would say, is a very beautiful material. The combination of using waste to create a beautiful surface makes me curious. Also surprised and glad. It is possible to make a beautiful surface out of waste! The material is pressed down

A material test. The orange color was already in the machine. I added white. The result is a piece with a marbled surface.


Insight 2 from the CNC mill: I have used the CNC mill to make the moulds in this project. The mould material is Ebalta Ebablock Aluminium. AHO got a small piece of this material which no one had tested before. After discussions with Geir Jarle Jensen and Halvor Hjort Guttu, both working at the workshop here at AHO, we decided to test the material in the CNC mill. The result was very good. The surface was even and smooth.



The CNC mill use a drill to carve out the shape in the material. It is normal to use a small drill at the end of the carving, to get an even surface. The drill move in a certain pattern. The operation parameters show it can move parallel, crosswise, block, circular, radial, offset, waterline and contour. By using a bigger drill than normal, and working with the settings of the machine, the drill have moved in a circular way leaving a pattern in the mould. The circular pattern are preferred for the sphere shape you see in the mould, because it goes in the same direction as the mould needs to be opened. The machine leaves the pattern as an aesthetic mark. The direction of the pattern makes is easier for me to open the mould after injection moulding. The shape in this mould are a half sphere. It is not a specific product with a functional purpose, but a shape with an inside and an outside and with a volume. I decided to make a round shape with a size of the maximum mass of what the machine could inject.

Circular pattern in the mould


Parallel pattern in the mould


Synthesizing of my insight

I have used different kind of plastic waste to mix into the injection moulding machine. When they blend they all get a very unique expression. I Invited my freind Stian to participate in shredding and making. We then melted the plastic in a sauspan and poured it into the mould. We used our own body weight to press. He thaught it was very interesting to get this own waste materialized into an object. It gave him a different view of his consumption, and the amount of waste he is responsible off.

The mould.


Sphere shapes made with different kind of waste


Waste from gingerbread box, both the brown bottom box and the red lid. The one to the right is white, where the little red part is from the lid.


Waste from a gingerbread box


Sometimes the machine can’t manage to fill the mould.

Sometimes the machine fills it up too much. It is not very stable, but stable enough.




This is my favorite piece. Because of the layered order of the plastic, and the direction of where the plastic enters the mould, you see the transition between white and orange waste.


These are the spheres made by our own body weight. The left is made by 4 take away plates after a dinner here at AHO. Our dinner is materialized in this shape. The middle one is the one made by me and Stian together, see next spread. The one to the left are 21 days of disposable lens containers. These three spheres are much more irregular than the one made by the machine. But here you have the possibillities to make the shape with the amount of waste you have available. This direction might be more suitable for artist to work with. I do think it is something interesting with showing the amount of waste from a specific source becoming something new.




Stian looking at his own waste. It used to be an ice cream box.




Reflection of my project

As always in a design project, you don’t know in the beginning where you will end. I have navigated through this project by trusting my methods and the intuition I have after five years of study. This has been a challenging and very exiting project where I have learnt something I wanted to learn about. I am very happy of the knowledge I have now after working with the machines and the plastic material. To end up with a project aiming to change peoples attitudes toward plastic recycling, is quite ambitious. I do think my design proposals are a step in the right direction. There are a lot more to explore, but I believe I have contributed to an important topic. At least I have worked a lot and tried my best. Because the focus of the project changed during the process, I needed to rethink what my design proposal should be. Going a step back in your process is always right (but hard!) when it makes you go in the right direction. I am very happy I got to test the process with both youths and peers and I really hope my project will inspire other designer to explore this topic further.


Thank you to everyone. You are the best.

There are a lot of people I want to thank. Everyone in the diploma class - you are the best! To my supervisors Nick Stevens & Geir Ă˜xseth. A big thank you to Geir Jarle Jensen who have helped me so much with the injection moulding machine. A big thank you also to Halvor Hjort Guttu and Roald Jenssen. To Mosse Sjaastad To Inger Steinnes To Nana and probaly to a lot more. I am so grateful.



* * Fellesverkstedet: Ebablock Alu: datasheet_uk_ebablock_alu.pdf




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