MA Material Futures
‘Foreign Garbage’ uses the beckoning cat or Maneki-neko as a symbol of useless plastic junk, creating a tool for discussion around waste. Historically the UK has sent 30% of its waste to China. However, as of 1st March 2018, China enacted a ban on the import of all “foreign garbage”. This has created huge problems for countries such as the UK, who previously relied on China to dispose of their rubbish, as there is no existing domestic infrastructure to deal with these levels of waste. Exploring this issue, ‘Foreign Garbage’ focuses on one specific waste stream: expanded polystyrene (EPS). Through experimentation I have developed a new recycling process, to create Deflated Polystyrene (DPS).
EPS is used solely for packaging, so the root of our rubbish problem in fact stems from an excess of buying rather than an excess of waste. In this project, I have chosen a product that is symbolic of ‘Made in China’ manufacturing and reproduced it with the waste that was intended to be sent to them. This process challenges the status quo around how we treat materials such as plastic and encourages an awareness, or revision, of the absurd action of shipping these products around the globe.
Waste is increasingly explored and discussed as a design topic and this will be key to tackling issues in the future. This project proposes a new recycling method for EPS and informs viewers about the surrounding politics and realities of its role in the economy.
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