Re-make | A participatory design workshop

Advertising banner reprocessing and design project
Mark Richardson, Monash University, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

This project aims to sustainably reuse PVC coated polyester fabrics, such as those in truck tarpaulins, grain bunker covers and advertising banners. Currently almost 100% this material in Australia is sent to landfill, which equates to 1.2 million square metres each year. These volumes are too low to make a good business for a dedicated industrial recycling plant, but large enough to support new industrial applications. Funded by the New South Wales Environment Protection Agency and supported by a wide-ranging team – including the peak industry bodies Vinyl Council of Australia and Outdoor Media Association, ad industry suppliers Rojo Pacific and APN Outdoor, plastics industry representatives Welvic and PMG Engineering and design and chemical engineering support by Monash University and the University of New South Wales – the venture is working towards developing ways to add value to the waste and promote opportunities for circular economies by design.

The project focuses specifically on reusing advertising banners, which are typically only used briefly, stored for a medium-term in warehouses, then securely disposed to landfill to ensure brand owner protection. The security surrounding the process has meant that outdoor media suppliers have been reluctant to see their product reused given the lack of control over where and how it might be used. In light of this, the project continues a positive conceptual work undertaken by the partners in 2014-15 that explored suitable ways to reuse the material and resulted in a number of exciting new materials and processes. The team are now developing these further with the aim of commercialising a number of resultant products.

The project nexus will be a participatory design workshop to be held in July 2016 where the project team and invited guests, including external design professionals, manufacturers, material specialists, reprocessors and undergraduate and postgraduate design students, will identify design concepts that draw upon both the characteristics of the material and social/market needs. The materials for the workshop will range from the loose pulverised fluff and pelletised recyclate, to press formed tiles and heat rolled skins, and the team will experiment with industrial methods such as 3D printing, press forming and roto moulding alongside hand-made maker and craft approaches. The design event will be held across 9 consecutive days from July 12-20 at Monash University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.


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