Dealing with Waste

To visualise how plastic still continues to exist even after a ‘solution’ to address them is enacted. This was intended to be achieved through diagramming what Eco Barge does with collected plastics, which is to prepare them for recycling—an extremely laborious and resource dependant process. This also sought to demonstrate that recycling is not as simple or easy as what it is often represented as (or as sustainable), and to make known that one of our solutions to plastic is not really a solution at all. 

On a visit to Eco Barge headquarters, I observed staff and volunteers shredding and breaking down their collected plastic marine debris to form materials for plastic upcycling. The final three stages of this process were observed: washing, drying and shredding the plastic, and I was able to take notes on the resources and machinery required (Figure 27). My earlier conversations with a staff member at Eco Barge about this process allowed me to put together a rough timeline for how the collected plastics were processed. Everything was done manually, and without the assistance of technology for the most part, so instead of creating a diagram that used figures and numbers, I decided to illustrate each kind of resource used (Figure 28).

Diagramming in this more factual manner reduced the story of what happens to plastic after collection to processes and steps—to facts that could inform consumers, but wouldn’t necessarily motivate, inspire or stimulate them. It became even more evident through this experiment that interpreting these plastics through fact-based lenses was uninteresting.

This experiment motivated a stronger desire to shift outside of my fact-based interpretation of the plastic—to see the plastic as more than a static waste object. More experiments needed to be undertaken to explore new lenses and how exactly to achieve this.