Guiltless Plastic – Accountability by Design

The reduce, reuse, recycle, mantra has lost its volume in a global culture of trendsetters and fast fashion. However, there is true power in design as a transformative tool with those who are seen by the world as icons having far reaching influence. The partnership of one such icon, Rossana Orlandi and Guiltless Plastic, has culminated in the creation of the Ro Plastic Prize which aims to amplify the environmental impact of creation, design and materiality and insert
consideration for these concepts at the forefront of the design dialogue.


Image by Jake Rollins

As a material, plastic has been burdened with a profoundly negative reputation. Once dubbed a miracle material, plastic has become so ingrained in the throwaway culture of the millennium that the magic of its innovation has considerably dulled. Not because it is any less groundbreaking, but because the devastating environmental implications of its fleeting (often single) use now vastly outweigh its many positives. Swilling menacingly in our oceans and maxing out waste transfer stations across the globe, plastic has become a scapegoat for misplaced human guilt. In Milan, arts patron and preeminent gallerista Rossana Orlandi has joined forces with Guiltless Plastic to correct profound misconceptions and renew our perspective on the use, reuse and conscious discarding of plastic.

72% of plastic packaging is not recoverable

In 2018, 400m tonnes of plastic waste was produced in the world

9% of that is recycled

These statistics tell us that we are creating without consideration of consequence. In order to curb plastic waste, a circular perspective must be achieved. That is, we must look at everything that will be created and assess its potential for renewal before heading into production.

In 2019, Guiltless Plastic announced the inception of the ‘Ro Plastic Prize.’ Devised to shine a spotlight on the way we — the human race — shift our guilty conscience towards the misuse of the globe’s most prevalent inanimate material. Now in its third iteration, the Ro Plastics Prize has garnered an impactful following amplifying the design warriors who, through their work, are clearly, concisely and intelligently showing how we could and should be harnessing the material’s profound capacity for reuse.

Jake Rollins is an Australian-based designer whose GolfWeave design earned him a finalist place in the 2020 ‘Industrial Design’ category of the Ro Plastic Prize. He defines renewal as “a shedding of sorts, a re-emergence.” Jake see’s renewal as “a part of growth and any evolutionary process.”

With the globe in the midst of an essential chapter of its constant evolution, an environmental tipping point has arrived. Jake’s contribution to a circular economy is a proposal that reimagines how we reuse plastic when it has reached the end of one iteration — in this case golf balls. Jake has designed an innovative arrangement where golf balls are strung together as if they were each atoms of carbon. Mother nature uses the same principle to make (and unmake) all the different compounds that surround us. The result is a novel type of ‘fabric,’ one that has a flexibility of application lending to infinite formations and intents. Jake has adopted the technique to design furniture that is pliable, enduring and robust.

Jake’s design has now been given a very visible platform in Rossana Orlandi’s Milan based gallery where it continues to remind us that viewing the production of plastic objects for their potential to regenerate is crucial to the end game which is to eradicate plastic waste (or in the very least to drastically increase that 9%). “I think the responsibility for evolving the way we produce plastic lies on all sides of the equation,” he says, “it’s about giving people the choice to make the right decision, and the [design] industry needs to come up with positive, viable alternatives while policy makers fashion incentives for change.”

The future the next generation will inherent hinges on the pioneering inroads made by organisations like Guiltless Plastic who call us out as a contributory society. One that is being handed an opportunity to redesign entire application sectors and to consider the inherent renewal value of plastic. Who better to front the plastic revolution than the design world?


Image by Jake Rollins

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