Sustainability and circular design is one of the themes of this year Milano design Week with a lot of reasearch on materials. One project that has caught our attention is the ‘Platic Stone Tile – The Nature of Waste’ by Enis Akiev at Space D BASE Milan – Ventura Projects. These tiles look like marble or stone tiles but they are made of 100% recucled LDPE plastic.
“There is no away” and nothing is worthless
Enis Akiev, a young Material Designer graduated at the Köln International School of Design and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, explains < Origin of the work were the questions,”What is waste?” and “Where is away?”. Waste is something subjective. What is considered waste in one place or situation can be a resource under other conditions. Waste is unused material. Garbage cannot be ‘thrown away’ because there is no such thing as ‘away’.>
Plastiglomerate: a new kind of rock
The majority of plastic waste ends up in the sea. This gave rise to the question of how plastic waste behaves in nature. Under natural influences it forms plastiglomerate. A compound of plastic and natural geological components. It is a new kind of rock. Based on this, Enis Akiev investigated rock forming processes and developed methods to give lightweight packaging waste a natural-looking rock-like structure.
<By focusing on post consumer plastic waste I want to change the perception of waste and show its unique aesthetics. I thus increase the value of disposable packaging waste and make it accessible as aesthetically pleasing and durable material. This work should give impulses to rethink the general understanding of resources and to stimulate an exploration of materials. With regard to the reduction of natural resources, we must consider waste more than ever as a resource and as a continuous step in a never-ending process, rather than the end of a product’s life.>
As a result of Enis work, plastic waste is transformed in an aesthetically valuable material. From something seemingly extremely short-lived, she makes marble like tiles that seems thousands of years old, because it looks like rocks.
Disposable plastic, a worldwide emergency
Disposable food packaging after consumer use accounts for the biggest part of the world’s plastic waste, namely 26 %, and is difficult to recycle. These plastic packages are used on average less than 15 minutes and are then worthless. The external costs of plastic packaging, that is, the costs incurred in production or consumption, but not incurred by the polluter, amounts to 40 billion US dollars, according to the World Economic Forum. Plastic packaging is almost exclusively used once. Worldwide, 14 % of plastic packaging is recycled and only 5% remain the same quality. The rest is processed to less valuable applications. After that, it can not be recycled anymore. The goal here would be to create cycles and conserve resources.
Enis Akiev is a Material Designer, born 1990 in Kazakhstan. She studied at Köln International School of Design and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and graduated in 2018. Her work focuses on recycling waste materials for architectural applications.