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When will you believe me? A comprehensive investigation in to plastics


This book has been Coauthored by Meaghan C.L. Sharp & Lindsay G. Sharp. Referencing heavily from; Cradle to Cradle Five steps toward reinventing the world: William McDonough & Michael Braungart , futerra sustainability communications; Selling the Sizzle and The Green Imperative: Victor Papanek


From the designers of yesteryear to tomorrow.



We work intellectually and from deep

With so much education and Information

levels of intuition and feeling, that’s why as

floating about, like the 50,000 pieces

designers I ask you to consider one thing:

[number much too small] of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre (see section four),

If plastics aren’t for throwing away, then

why are we not talking about the ‘plastic

what are they for?

problem’ that threatens the earth?

Shoppers worldwide are using between

I am not talking about a frivolous Nanny-State

500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags per

goal to force every one to think the same.

year. This translates to about a million

Instead, this is a call to the untapped potential

bags every minute across the globe, or

of the designers of tomorrow, like you, to

150 bags a year for every person on earth.

transform this problem of perception and turn

And the number is rising. Most of them are

it in to a solution. We must use all our skills to

thrown away and become landfill taking

develop appropriate answers and to create the

hundreds ofyears to degrade.

controlled, empirical environments in which to test such solutions.

This book is going to look at where we have come from and where we have to

For us to survive there must be agreement

go in order to reclaim plastics as the

about these critical ideas amongst our

beautiful materials they are. Is it the

species. Perhaps this re-affirmation could

product that’s the problem? No, its how

be along the lines of the ‘First Things

we think of it that needs changing.

First’ manifesto which was written on 29

So, why do we treat plastics as we do: is it

re-radicalise design, that by then had

because we have never known better?

become lazy and uncritical. Drawing

November 1963 and which tried to

on ideas shared by ‘Critical Theory’, I think not. If any one believes that the

the Frankfurt School and the counter-

current surge of interest in sustainable,

cultural values of the time, it explicitly

ecological and economical products is

re-affirmed the belief that Design is not a

the first time this awareness has come to

neutral, value-free process; that design is

our collective conscience then, they are

responsible for much of what happens in

mistaken. People have been campaigning

our world.

for us to really think about these key issues since the 1970s yet we just haven’t heard them clearly enough. This has led to some awesome ecological hazards developing, all caused by humankind.









History of plastics: how the problem started. Extracted from The age of plastics & The Authoritative guide to Plastic.



Parkesine was the world’s first plastic material. A form of nitrated cellulose, which was to become better known under the name Celluloid. When the British inventor Alexander Parkes decided to show the general public for the first time a range of products he chose as the venue the International Exhibition held in London in 1862. Neither Parkes nor any of the six million people who visited that exhibition could have realized that here was the beginning of a great industry supplying the world with an essential raw material. Plastics have become crucial to modern living, not least because of their immense versatility. Plastic can be produced in almost any shape or colour and they can be formulated to give specific technical properties such as toughness, corrosion resistance, electrical and thermal insulation, flexibility, rigidity, and so on. We have a raw material upon which the world depends but which is also often used to produce hideous, outrageous trivia regarded by most people as a waste of the earth’s limited resources. The cultural meanings that plastics have acquired over the course of this century are varied and complex. Created in the first place as substitutes for luxury materials that were in increasing demand and diminishing supply in the second half of the 19th nineteenth century, first celluloid and later the synthetic plastics were developed as more available alternatives.



Simultaneously however, they also served as essential adjunct to a number of the new technological innovations of the era of photography, the early film industry and the electrical industry in particular. Thus plastics’ reputation was formed, in the early days, within the twin realms of the expansion or the middle-class market and the technological advances of the ‘modern world’: As such they earned respect and admiration. Only gradually, with the sociocultural changes of the first half of this century and the emergence of so-called ‘mass culture’ at the end of this era, did plastics fall from grace and become transformed in the eyes of society at large, into ‘cheap and nasty’ substitutes. The demise in their reputation was influenced by a number of factors, among them the large-scale manufacture of plastics and plastic products dominated by American oil companies such as DuPont, which rid them of any lingering associations with luxury and quality that they might have retained from an earlier period, and the growing availability of such products to a mass market. After the Second World War plastic products became associated with the concepts of’ ‘inauthenticity ‘, cheapness’, ‘low quality’ and ‘bad taste’. In contrast to the traditional ‘craft’ materials : clay, stone etc. They were downgraded and seen as essentially ‘inferior’. A reputation that they have been trying, with the help of designers, to throw off ever since.



Three 8


What plastic is made from; Why we must recycle.

Three 9

Where does plastic come from and why it is imperative we recycle it as a resource?


Plastic as we know it today does not exist in

Petroleum is drilled and

a natural state. It is produced by synthesis.

transported to a refinery.

Currently, 99% of plastics used throughout the world are manufactured from oil. Around seven per cent of worldwide oil and gas resources are consumed in plastics manufacture, with worldwide production exceeding 150 million tons per year. Almost 99% of plastics are formed from fossil fuels a finite and rapidly reducing resource. Fossil fuels would take millions of years to be replenished. The journey from oil field to finished plastic product has numerous fascinating side trips. Here is an example of the route taken in the petroleum-to-plastics process:

8Customers manufacture plastic products & sell it on to us.

7 Pellets are shipped to customers.













2Crude oil and natural gas


are refined into ethane, propane, and hundreds






Ethane and propane

of other petrochemical

are “cracked”

products and, of course,

into ethylene and

fuel for your car.

propylene, using high temperature furnaces.

4 Catalyst is combined with ethylene or propylene in a reactor, resulting in “fluff,” a powdered material (polymer) resembling laundry detergent.

6Melted plastic is cooled

Fluff is combined

then fed to a pelletizer

with additives in a

that cuts the product

continuous blender.

into small pellets.

Three 11



Although many plastics can be recycled

pacemakers and artificial joints, filtration

in one form or another, there must be an

and liquid storage devices. But as vast

upper limit to the number of dark grey, rough

quantities of indestructible plastic waste

textured counter-tops that can be usefully

are washed up on the shoreline and lie

employed. Plastics that contain similar

unmouldering in our rubbish dumps, we

molecular structures can be co-recycled,

must analyse the whole question of how we

but it is better procedure to keep plastic

use it and how we throw it away.

materials separate. The ‘environmentally friendly’ recycling There is a continuing need for plastics

initiative started by the plastics industry

in medicine, optics, animal husbandry,

should be welcomed with great caution.

research into and storage of food and

American householders are encouraged

chemicals, where nothing else will do

to separate plastics from the rest of

the task as effectively. Plastic is, at the

their household trash, but it seems that

moment, the best material we have

thousands of tons of both household and

for replacement heart-valves, heart

industrial plastic waste, instead of being

Three 12


By far the largest importer of US plastic

shipped to less industrialized countries,

waste is Hong Kong, from where much of

particularly in Asia, where the waste is

it goes to China.’

reprocessed under much less stringent

California, Minnesota, Wisconsin

rules for health and environmental safety,

and scores of cities and towns are

or is merely dumped in landfills there.

considering banning nondegradable

Although law in the Philippines bans

plastics, and are advocating paper

waste imports, over 7500 tons of plastic

for packaging. This approach sounds

waste was shipped there from the USA in

reasonable at first, until it is realized

1991. Indonesia was receiving thousands

that this would require a hundred and

of tons until November 1992, when the

seventy million acres of extra forest

Indonesian government banned imports of

land for paper production, an area the

plastic waste; since then, however, illegal

size of the United Kingdom. This alone

container shipments of plastics from the

would add fifty-five thousand million

Netherlands, Japan, Korea and the USA

pounds (twenty-five thousand million

have been accumulating Indonesian Ports.

kg) of trash a year world wide, and would

Three 13

also raise annual energy consumption by

Thermoplastics melt at a specific high

more than 225 % each year.

temperature and therefore can be compared to glass. Thermosetting polymers - a loaf

Researchers are therefore currently

of bread could serve as a metaphor - do

attempting to develop plastic materials

not liquefy and are consequently extremely

that can be biologically degraded, either into

difficult to recycle. Thermosetting materials

many inert, minute fragments, or, ideally

can be ground up and used as a ‘filler’ in newer

into carbon dioxide and water.

thermosetting materials, but less than a third of the newly constituted material can be

Not only designers but also recyclers and

recycled filler. Thermosetting plastics, such as

users of products need to know what kind of

melamine, phenolic, epoxies, urea, unsaturated

plastic or elastomer (an elastic, rubber-like

polyester (UPE), or thermosetting polyester (PE)

material) they are dealing with. Thermoplastics

are extremely difficult to re-use.

and elastomers are easy to recycle. The use of such terms as ‘biodegradable’ and ‘biodegradation’ lacks precision and

Three 14


is too simplistic. Even within the plastics

designer should bring about innovative new

industry and scientific circles, these

ways of utilizing what we already have.

terms need clarification. The necessity for choosing materials with Portfolio of plastics on pages 44-45 gives a

extreme care is emphasized by the problem

short explanation of the meaning of various

of landfills - dumping sites where unsorted

terms in relation to the different categories

rubbish is buried in the ground. Frequently

of plastics and the alternatives presented to

such landfills are then used as building

the product designer.

sites. Recent research excavations of older landfills have shown that, if closely packed,

At present the designer has a choice of at

even organic waste and waste considered

least seven strategies that employ plastic

biodegradable can last from twenty to forty

materials in an ecologically benign way.

years without significant changes.

A repertoire that is sure to expand greatly over the next few years. Yet there are many

Recycling is great, and the people who make

other possible materials available, and the

it happen, from recycling companies to

Three 15


the end users of recycled materials, should

less ‘sustainable’ and yet they are often

get points for being green. But a brand that

marketed and promoted as a smokescreen,

claims it is helping the environment by

or deflection from the poor environmental

manufacturing recyclable products is not

behaviour of the corporation.

doing much more than greenwashing. Plastic is mostly recyclable but that doesn’t Green washing is the practice of promoting

make it an eco-friendly material, or mean

apparently environmentally friendly

we should be consuming more of it. The

programs or products to deflect attention

resources that go into transporting it, and

from an organisation’s environmentally

then for soda or water bottles, refrigeration

unfriendly or less than savoury

at the store often consumes more energy

activities. The intent is to cash in on

than the transportation and bottling

the ‘Green pound’ taking advantage of

processes together. None of this energy

environmentally conscious buyers. Often

is replenished by recycling the bottle, a

this permits a substantial mark up in profit

process that itself consumes energy.

margin. Such products may be more or

Three 16

a Pl ic st ga Su r Now where plastics may come from will be

The process is much less energy intensive

different because of people like Charlotte

than current methods of producing plastic.

Williams, of the Engineering and Physical

The new material is also better for the

Sciences Research Council who is helping

environment because it degrades quickly. A

to develop the new material, plastics

complete Cradle-to-Cradle approach.

made from sugar, which could be on the shelves within five years.

At the moment the research is concentrating on how to make plastics from

Dr Williams said the British research had

sugar for the mass market but results are

worked out how to extract a polymer from

“very promising�. It will then be necessary

glucose found in trees and grasses. Since these

to develop the product commercially and go

plants are not needed for food and require

through all the necessary regulations.

much less land to make the amount of plastic needed, it would be much less controversial than growing crops for fuel in cars.

Three 17




Out of sight out of mind.



Prime contributors to the growing tide of plastic pollution are the world’s merchant ships, which, according to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, dump at least 6.6 million tons of trash overboard every year. With 200 billion tons of plastic used by people at least 30% of those containers and bags are tossed into the oceans. 70% eventually sinks and the other 30% floats to the surface. Commercial fishermen are major offenders. Estimates of the plastic fishing gear lost or discarded at sea every year range as high as 150,000 tons. Boaters and beach goers add to the marine litter with six-pack yokes, picnic utensils, sandwich bags and Styrofoam cups. Cities and industries discharging waste directly into the water or dumping it at sea are also to blame. On some East Coast beaches

Al Pruter, a fishery biologist and partner

near sewage outlets, so many plastic tampon

in a Seattle-based natural- resources

inserters have washed ashore that residents

consulting firm has said that “almost

refer to them as “beach whistles.”

without exception, surveys show plastic to account for over one-half the man-made

Estimates of plastics in the world’s oceans

products on the ocean surface.”

exceed 100 million tons. 20% comes from ocean sources like derelict fishing gear, 80%

Oceanic gyres are circular ocean currents

comes from land, from our watersheds.

created by rotating high-pressure systems.

A large segment of that comes from single

Nine major oceanic gyres around the world

use consumer items like the ever-popular

have become accumulation zones for plastic

plastic bottle or carrier bag.

debris, drawing thousands of tons of plastic into their centres. Garbage from the East

Perhaps the most ubiquitous form of plastic

Coast of Asia takes about a year to reach the

trash is the tiny polyethylene pellets used

North Pacific Gyre, and about five years for it

in the manufacture of plastic items. In one

to come from North America.

survey, researchers calculated that, on average, a square mile of the Sargasso Sea,

In the central north pacific gyre, pieces of

southeast of Florida, contained between

plastic outweigh surface zooplankton by a

8,000 and 10,000 bobbing pellets.

factor of six to one. In the Pacific Gyre , most of






the plastic comes from low-density Polyethene, Polypropalene, Polyethelene and expanded styrene (which to you and me is plastic bags, bottle caps, water bottles and Styrofoam cups.) The boarders of the floating ‘plastic island’ are hard to calculate as much of the debris is too small to be seen by the satellites or planes. Estimates of its size range from about 250,00 square miles which is roughly the size of Texas to 6 million square miles. If this is correct then that would mean that this ‘plastic island’ covers at least 10% of the entire Pacific Ocean. Ninety percent of The Laysan Albatross from the Hawaiian Islands have their chicks die from starvation. The carcasses and regurgitated stomach contents often contain large amounts of plastics from lighters too toy solders. These sea birds and many fish mistake plastic for food, the small colourful items look like vegetation or other fish.

Plastic debris release and absorb floating chemical additives and plasticizers into the ocean. The chemicals are attracted to the



plastics oil base. Many of the chemicals

*The Chemical pollutants include:

are known pollutants which never leave

Aldrin (insecticide), Chlordane .H. (pesticide), Dieldrin (insecticide), DDT (pesticide),

the environment *. These pollutants

Dioxins (toxic chemicals that are an Industrial waste product metal smelling & paper

bioaccumulate in the tissues of marine

bleaching). Endrin (insecticide), Furans (toxic chemicals used as Solvents), Heptachlor

organisms, biomagnify up the food chain,

(insecticide), Hexachlo-robenzene (fungicide), Mirex (insecticide), Polychlorinated

and find their way in to the foods we eat.

Biphenyls ( coolant & lubricant), Toxaphene (insecticide)






Two paths into the future.



There are two ways of looking at this

new technological fixes usually come

problem: there is the Cradle-to-Cradle

accompanied by dozens of unforeseen side

approach and there is the approach that is

effects.’ (Papanek, 1995, )

currently happening. It is said that Capitalists are only out to Cradle to Cradle is a book that maps the

make a profit, and as a large cog in this

lineaments of McDonough and Braungart’s

industrial machine our sense of right and

new design paradigm, offering practical

wrong has been twisted and confused.

steps on how to innovate within today’s

Indeed Victor Papanek agrees that ‘the post

economic environment. This book deals

modern age could be characterised as a

with social history, and strives to be a green

vacuum of conscience’ (1995).

business primer, as well as a conceptual design manual. They make it plain to see

We as a collective profession are partly

that the re-invention of human industry is

to blame. Thackara, (2006) highlights that

not only within our grasp; it is our best hope

‘80% of the environmental impact of today’s

for a future of sustaining prosperity.

products, services and infrastructures are determined at the design stage.’

The design of products and manufacturing systems have grown out of the Industrial

If we change our ways then we will not create

Revolution, they reflected the ideas of

trash gyres or landfill sites in the future, all

their time and created many unintended

our products will work either to replenish our

consequences. When designers employ

lands or be able to be upcycled or recycled

the intelligence of natural systems; like the

and if we don’t we will just add to the waste

effectiveness of nutrient cycling, like making

and one day be ‘buried’ by all the rubbish.

new plastics out of sugar, they can create products, industrial systems that allow nature and commerce to fruitfully coexist. We are stuck with an industrialised way of thinking at the moment. We make recycled paper, which is positive in its concept but in reality it may use twice as much energy to transport, bleach, reshape and sell back into the market than just using virgin paper. Papanek points out that in most ‘industrialized countries many people have come to expect a technological fix for every ecological dysfunction ... experience tells us that in design, architecture or planning, Five








Setting it straight.



In the 1940s a salesman named Elmer

That is the picture we need to create.

Wheeler made what TIME magazine

That is the dream that will become our reality.

called ‘a handsome living’ advising U.S.

At almost every turning point in human

businesses. He knew that you “don’t sell

history, when things have looked the bleakest,

the sausage – sell the sizzle!”

extraordinary people have seen a different way forward. Compelling visions of ‘better’

Elmer highlighted that the big secret

have inspired us to overcome massive odds

to successful selling is that you don’t

before. Mandela, Martin Luther King and

advertise the sausage itself; because it’s

may more have sold the ideal of ‘heaven’ when

the sounds and smells which entice people.

they were faced with ‘hell’

For years we’ve tried to ‘sell’ climate change and intern sustainable design, but a lot of

We need also to understand that creating

people aren’t buying.

a ghetto called ‘sustainable design’ is a mistake: as Papanek states (1995) ‘There

The resolution for global warming is still a

should be no special category called

scientist and Politician’s problem, but that

‘sustainable design’ it might be simpler

doesn’t have to stop us from using our skills

to assume that all designers will try to

to help them change people’s minds. All we

reshape their values and work so that all

need to do is present a solid argument as

design is based on humility, combines

well as learning about selling from Elmer.

objective aspects of climate change and the ecological use of materials with subjective

Although these Armageddon climate

intuitive processes and relies on cultural,

scenarios might be accurate and eye-

bioregional factors for its forms’

catching, they haven’t changed attitudes or behaviours. Threats of climate change haven’t seemed to hold us back from running recklessly towards it.

We must embed the principles of sustainable/‘green’ design in all design work and education. These are:

An approach needed now more than ever before is one that will change hearts

•Reduce waste in production and

and minds. We must build a visual and

consumption, i.e. using low impact

compelling vision of low carbon heaven.

materials that will not affect the

A low carbon future that creates plastics

environment or the end users.

from plants in an effective cradle to cradle way, or at least massively minimises the carbon load and mainly unrecyclable waste

•Energy efficiency: use manufacturing

cycle of the present day.

process and products that need to consume LESS energy



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•Quality and durability: longer-lasting and

As part of a practical vision we need,

better-functioning products will have to

therefore, to legislate appropriate rules for

be replaced less frequently, reducing the

the design profession and the business

impacts of producing replacements

communities they service. We need to and sell ecologically damaging products

•Designing impact measures for total

or services and to encourage, also,

carbon foot print

through incentivisation and taxation, more responsible design and a manufacturing/

processing behaviours. Creativity and

•Biomimicry designing and re-designing

steady purpose are needed just as much

industrial systems on biological cycles

in the design of appropriate legislation and

enabling constant reuse of materials in

educational programmes as in the actual

continues cycles

process of design development or sound business practices. We need to build a

For these to succeed commercially it is

positive framework for the delivery of that

crucial that the design achieves agreed

practical vision. And we need to do it now.

profit margins and can have production scaled up to appropriate volumes. It is

Public engagement through interactive

also crucial that any green claims are

media and broad based, well-designed

demonstrated and verifiable.

programmes will support the other two legs:





Cite zen Cite zen

Cha nge Peo ple + Pla ne t Crad le to Crad le

make it more expensive to manufacture

M as sive



legislation and commercial incentivisation.

All this means that we have a large challenge

When it is more expensive to manufacture

ahead of us, dealing with the social,

abysmal ‘life cycle’ products and provide

economic and commercial fixes of climate

equally damaging services manufacturers

change and environmental degradation,

and service industries will rapidly adopt

working towards sustainable design as

new practices. This will slowly take us

well as combating the effects of devious

closer to the total ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’ society,

manipulation of words, ideas and imagery.

in turn profoundly impinging on product/

We must take these challenges and make

service design, development, packaging and

creative work out of it. It is essential that

marketing and the educational industries

our educational systems and organisations

that produce the business managers,

begin to address issues relating to green

designers and marketers that drive

design and creative sustainability; and

commercial life today.

public engagement and understanding of these issues. Designers must become

There needs to be a ‘science for design’

change agents and effective professionals

which must now focus powerfully on the

delivering a step change in how we do things

world of plastics and plastics’ development

and develop products; and inform and

which, as a leading hazard and sustainability

engage the public helping legislators and

challenge, has to be solved as soon as

consumers with the skill sets required to

possible. This would be an outstanding

demand more responsible and sustainable

example of a ‘practical vision’- we could

products and services.

produce more, not less, yet in so doing we could assist the environment, lower carbon

In all this tackling issues presented by the

load and enhance natural fecundity.

plastics’ debate there could be a beacon of hope as opposed to a rubbish tip. A trash

This is backed up by Krippendorff, K.

heap that poisons the land and sea and kills

(2006) who states that a ‘science for

both animals and humans in their turn.

design’ must ‘provide the intellectual tools needed to realize what did not exist before, to introduce desirable changes in the world, to project the technological, social, and cultural consequences of a design into the future, and, above all, to provide compelling justifications of designs to those affected by and needed to bring about these futures, their stakeholders.’





Seven 34


You can do it.

Seven 35

I don’t want to sell nightmares anymore.

themselves overnight. Instead, they take up

Its pointless to use the threat , ‘be good

the strategy step-by-step, employing an ever-

or you’re going to hell’. these berating

broadening ability to refine and ultimately

statments and demands ‘be energy efficient

transform materials, products, manufacturing

or you’re going to climate change hell’ have

systems and even the relationship between

never really made an impact because it’s

producers and customers.

hell that we need to be selling. The first three steps of the eco-effective Being positive can be hard. We sometimes

strategy, which I have described in a

have the urge to grab people by the

previous essay, are essentially a process

shoulders, give them a good shake and cry,

of editing and refinement: Aiming to

“pull your finger out or we’re all going to

make safe, healthful products within the

fry!” The problem is that climate change is

framework of current manufacturing and

too important. You’ve got to do what works,

marketing systems, designers progressively

and their research suggests this positive

weed out and replace an existing product’s

and creative engagement works. Try it.

ecologically harmful ingredients. From

Step One to Three, designers move from

From the work of Nelson, H. and Stolterman,

redefining products as “free of” one

E. (2002):

particularly dangerous substance to selecting all product ingredients from a

‘Design is the ability to imagine that-which-

well-defined menu of safe materials.

does-not-yet-exist and to make it appear in concrete form as a new, purposeful addition

At Step Four they enter the realm of true

to the real world.’

eco-effectiveness, where designers aim to create products and systems that are not

I agree with the statements made by

simply “less bad” but which actually generate

William MaDonna from his co-authored

a broad spectrum of positive effects. At this

book Cradle to Cradle; ‘Imagine what a world

point on the five-step path, the idea is not to

of prosperity and health looks like and begin

limit the impact of a product but to conceive

designing for it now’.

goods and services that create ecological, social and economic value.

Plastics can be socially responsible and beautiful. It is our job to inform and

For economic reasons, too, I think it’s

influence the client and in turn the end user.

extremely important to begin reinventing

Designers have always been teachers, and

existing products today, within the context

we must continue to play this role.

of the current system. Reaching for Step Four now not only gives companies a

When forward-thinking companies adopt

jump on the long process of innovation, it

eco-effective design, most don’t re-invent

allows a product to stay in production and

Seven 36


Seven 37

in the marketplace, maintaining demand, recognition and value. Albert Einstein said “the world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation.” I would hasten to add that, ultimately, new ways of thinking reveal their true value in new ways of doing things. This is especially true in the world of design. The proof of intelligent design theory is intelligent design practice, the hands-on, practical application of emerging ideas. Over the past decade, design for sustainability has made great leaps from theory to practice. Across a broad range of human industry, designers have begun to transform the making of things into a force for positive change. Indeed, I’m convinced that thoughtful design mirroring the safe, regenerative productivity of nature-what is called Cradle to Cradle Design™-can create materials, products, and manufacturing systems that are not simply sustainable, but yield sustaining growth in economic prosperity, ecological intelligence, and social value. And in this design process enhancement the world of plastics is the perfect domain in which to demonstrate how a beautiful vision can, through practical and creative design, be turned into a successful reality.

Seven 38

Seven 39




Who to contact +Where to sign:



This is not the first time or place that we have approached you. So we have compiled a list of places that you can visit and things you can read about if you want to put your weight behind this cause. Legislations:


Events and Conferences Aspen Design Summit; The 2009 Aspen Design Summit, a partnership of AIGA and

Hannover Principles/Bill of Rights for the

Winterhouse Institute, was held at Aspen


Meadows in November 2009.


Bruce Mau Design and the Institute without Boundaries; explores

Climate: Design: Design and Planning for

paradigm-shifting events, ideas, and people,

the Age of Climate Change

investigating the capacities and ethical

From ORO editions

dilemmas of design in manufacturing, transportation, urbanism, warfare, health,

Change by design by Tim brown

living, energy, markets, materials, the image and information. We need to evolve a global

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way

society that has the capacity to direct and

We Make Things by William McDonough;

control the emerging forces in order to

Michael Braungart

achieve the most positive outcome.

Design is the Problem:

Sustainability in Design: NOW - LeNS

The future of design must be

2010 International Conference in Bangalore

sustainable by Nathan Shedroff

SEGD Annual Conference + Expo : The green imperative: ecology and ethics

is unique among design education events,

in design and architecture by Papanek, V.

combining inspirational presentations from design leaders and clients with

Sustainable Graphic Design: Tools,

panel discussions, technical sessions,

Systems and Strategies for Innovative Print

networking and social events, and SEGD’s

Designby Wendy Jedlicka

signature Workshops on Wheels, which invite attendees to get out in the world and experience projects first-hand.



Organizations People & Planet is the largest,

EC3 Global ; is an international

student network in Britain campaigning to

environmental management and certification

end world poverty, defend human rights and

company, with more than 1000 clients in

protect the environment.

over 60 countries. Among them are National Park agencies, community organizations,

Society for Environmental Graphic Design is a global community of people

Government regulators and some of the world’s leading hotel and travel groups.

working at the intersection of communication design and the built environment.

The European Sociological Association (ESA) aims to facilitate

Worldchanging is a nonprofit media

sociological research, teaching and

organization headquartered in Seattle,

communication on European issues, and to

WA, that comprises a global network

give sociology a voice in European affairs.

of independent journalists, designers and thinkers. We cover the world’s most innovative solutions to the planet’s problems, and inspire readers around the world with stories of new tools, models and ideas for building a bright green future. We have brought awareness to issues like refugee aid, renewable energy and innovative solutions for improving building, transportation, communication and quality of life.

Green Map System promotes inclusive participation in sustainable community development worldwide, using mapmaking as our medium.



PORTFOLIO OF PLASTIC AVAILABLE. Permanent For products for which there will be no secondary use. Applications in medicine and related fields for products in direct contact with organic parts, e.g. parts of an implanted hip joint, shell of heart pacemaker, artificial veins, and blood-storage bags. Material characteristics and lasting quality performance of primary importance, e.g. Nylon 66. Quantity used negligible.

Recyclable Thermoplastics and elastomers melt at a specific high temperature like glass and are easy to recycle. Thermosetting polymers do not liquefy and are very difficult to recycle; research is continuing into better methods.

Re-usable Product can be used over and over again unchanged, e.g. Plastic bucket. Complex tools or appliances can be repaired, upgraded in whole or in part, for resale. Enormous numbers of items involved. Wood, tin, enamel, glass, ceramics ecologically and aesthetically preferable

Co-recyclable Compatible materials can be recycled together to form a useful new material.

Bioenhancing Carry additives to stimulate plant growth, or, as with the artificial burrs designed in the 1975 to prevent erosion in arid climates, carry plant seeds and seedlings embedded in growth stimulants.

Index 44

Biodisintegratable Attempts have been made to embed a biodegradable trait into synthetic polymers so that they turn into mulch. These compounds perform badly in landfills through lack of moisture, slightly better when composted. Radical improvements have produced plastics, now commercially available, that degrade 100% less than 2 months after being discarded. Research continues into further control of the start of degradation.

Biodegradable 100% biodegradable rather than biodisintegratable. PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate), a member of the polyester family discovered in 1925, is ‘manufactured’ directly by micro-organisms. Since then scores of bacteria that produce this organic polymer have been found, including PHBs (polyhydroxybutyrates), one of the first to be commercially available. PHA plastics can be moulded, melted and shaped like petroleum-based plastics, and have the same flexibility and strength. The same production methods can be used, e.g. melt-casting, injection moulding, blow moulding, spinning and extrusion. Manufactured under the name Biopol in Europe by ICI and PHBV in the United States. Too expensive for routine use for soft-drink bottles or grocery bags, but the cost should drop with full-scale production.

Bioregenerative Union Carbide researchers have produced a type of polycaprolactone film that completely biodegrades within 3 months� leaving no residues. Research into paper products laminated with layers of corn-based cellulose materials prove they can resist water for 6 to 8 hours and could serve as containers for drinks and fast-food items.

Index 45

Bibliography Cernansky R. (15 Oct, 2009) Recyclable Is Not Recycled: Why Recyclable is the Greenwashingest Word Around Because it doesn’t mean anything. Planet Green htm Giunti, G. & Zaytseva, K. (2009) Transition to a sustainable future. A study about students’ attitudes and views toward corporate sustainability. A comparison between Sweden, Italy and Russia. Gray L. (18 Feb 2010) Scientists develop new plastic made from sugar that can be composted; Food packaging made from sugar has been developed by British scientists. Spark P.(1990) The Plastics Age; from modernity to post modernity. Victoria & Albert Museum McDonough, W. & Braungart M (2002) Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things Murphy J., Dorfman A. & Hull J. (2 Jun, 1986) Environment: The Perils of Plastic Pollution,9171,961534,00.html Papanek, V. (1995) The green imperative: ecology and ethics in design and architecture: Thames and Hudson Ward, P. (2001)The authoritative guide to plastic collectibles : wacky, fun and kitsch. Silverdale Woody T (9 March, 2010) Scientists Develop Highly Recyclable Plastic. The New York Times

Bibliography 46

Bibliography 47


When will youbelieve me?  
When will youbelieve me?  

A comprehensive investigation in to plastics.