Material Reality to Materiality: Ocean Plastic and Design Research




Material Reality to Materiality: Ocean Plastic and Design Research


Ian Lambert;
Katharina Vones

Creator/Author Institutional Affiliation

Vones: Dundee University


Dec 11-12, 2019

Event Type


Event Name

Design Research for Change (DR4C) Symposium


Design Museum, London


With approximately 5 to 13 million tonnes of plastic waste being deposited into the marine environment every year (Jambeck et al., 2015), oceanic plastic pollution is approaching catastrophic levels. This figure is widely used across the news media, although Jambeck et al. also state that, "[…] no rigorous estimates exist of the total amount and origin of plastic debris in the marine environment" (2015, p.768). As large islands of plastic waste such as the Pacific Gyre (more commonly known as the Pacific Garbage Patch) amass through the forces of intercontinental currents (Law et al., 2010) and microscopic plastic particles enter the food chain, serious consequences on the delicate ecosystems of marine life, and ultimately human health are becoming more apparent (Wright et al., 2013). Remote beaches in the pathway of oceanic currents, such as those on the West Coast of Scotland, become repositories for discarded ocean plastic (Barnes and Milner, 2005), with only a small percentage of the total amount being usefully repurposed by locals. The rest is left to photodegenerate, breaking into ever smaller parts and being washed back into the sea or ingested by local wildlife (Seltenrich, 2015). Ocean plastic therefore represents a serious environmental threat as well as an underused material resource freely available to local populations.

Subject Terms

ocean plastic; reuse; recycle; filament; 3D printing; waste; refuse; environment; sustainability






Ian Lambert; Katharina Vones, “Material Reality to Materiality: Ocean Plastic and Design Research,” CCS Research Repository, accessed May 18, 2024,

Output Formats