Positive Plastics is a new initiative launched by three materials experts, united by a special passion for plastics. It’s a passion they want to share with the designers and engineers with whom they work, to encourage them to ‘think positively about plastics.’ They’ve created an innovative sample kit, launching here at Fakuma and on display at the stands of selected partners, as a highly tangible visualisation of their message.
The initiative is the brainchild of Efrat Friedland, Erik Moth-Müller, and Markus Paloheimo, who, repeatedly, in the course of their work as consultants and educators in the materials and polymers field, ran up against two recurrent problems. First, the knowledge and understanding of materials technologies, especially of polymers, among the designers, product managers and engineers they dealt with tended to be very poor. Second, the samples they sourced from raw materials manufacturers were generally not suited for the purpose for which the materials experts needed them, namely, to show what the material could do. Positive Plastics aims to address both problems at the same time.
“Designers learn very little about materials technologies during their studies, especially plastics,” said Efrat Friedland. As materials experts, with 20 years of experience working in the industry, she feels that plastics have too often been cast in the role of villain over the past years by the market, consumers and policymakers. As a result, many designers, without having any substantial knowledge, have tried to replace polymers with other materials. They do not understand the advantages of polymers in general. And how they are essentially irreplaceable, she said.
“Try to imagine your life without plastic,” she continued. “Without the products and services we have all grown to rely on in almost every aspect of our lives. It seems that we can’t get along without this material, but we must eliminate its waste and negative impact.”
The solution, however, is not to eliminate plastics.
”There are many new grades on the market that are composed of natural materials or recycled materials, or both....they can replace traditional, fossil-fuel based plastics in every industry and product imaginable. Sadly, very few designers and engineers are familiar with them. Our goal is to change that,” explained Erik Moth-Müller.
Positive Plastics aims to introduce this group to the polymers currently on the market that offer a positive benefit of some kind in terms of sustainability and or circular economy in an effort to create what Friedland refers to as a ‘more accepting outlook on plastics’.
To that end, the three material experts behind the initiative decided to create a materials kit that could serve as a tool to promote a better understanding of these materials among designers and facilitate the communication between non-technical and technical team members.