13 Jan

Big balls in the plastic soup

12:45 pm

Hôtel Droog
Big balls in the plastic soup! January 22, 2015 Report by Suki

A day before the event ‘Big balls in the plastic soup!’ the Dutch Broadcast Foundation NOS had an item about the Volvo Ocean Race. The Brunel Sailing Captain Bouwe Bekking was pointing to the huge problem of plastic soup. He did not have high expectations of politicians to tackle this issue. It was therefore very interesting to see with what solutions, possibilities and remarks the invited designer, architect, artist and sustainability journalist came up with at the event ‘Big balls in the plastic soup!

For example Alex Groves of Studio Swine stressed that we really need to be aware of all the plastic microfibers in products. Because precisely these end up in plankton, which are extremely important as a major source of half of our oxygen and a major source of food for sealife. His strategy is to change the mindset of people using plastics through seduction. His latest project with Studio Swine is the North Atlantic Gyre Project, using a plastic extruder which melts the plastic at sea with only the power of the sun, forming a 3D printer that can be used either on sea or on land.

Ramon Knoester of WHIM Architecture commented that the harvesting, collecting and recycling of plastics in rivers and seas is practically still quite hard to manage. According to him, the key to this is seeking collaborations with all kinds of stakeholders. At the moment he is collaborating for his proposal to retrieve plastic waste from the river the Nieuwe Maas just before it reaches the North Sea , and to transform this into basic elements for a floating park or a green shore. His partners are the municipality of Rotterdam, Wageningen University, Better Future Factory, HEBO maritiemservice and SK international.

Artist and kitesurfer Merijn Tinga said that he is simply using plastic waste as a statement to raise awareness for the problem. He garnered a lot of mainstream media attention with his kiteboard made of plastic waste, with which he surfed the North Sea from Belgium to Germany.

Last but not least, sustainability journalist and industrial engineer Daniël Poolen gave a thorough reflection on our use of plastics and the dangers it causes (5.250.000.000.000 particles, 269.940.000 kilo in the sea). He also stressed to avoid the use of microplastics, and rather to employ the 5 natural polymers (amber, natural rubber, cellulose, starch, proteins). His concluding words contained a valid message for designers: don’t just design a product, but design a system in which you include helping the poorest.

After the presentations the documentary film Plastic Soup Surfer (2014) by Bie Muusze was shown.

The public event ‘Big balls in the plastic soup!’ is part of the larger program by Droog Foundation, Material Matters Next! which is about new economies in the age of material scarcity.


This event was supported by the AFK (Amsterdam Fund for the Arts).