Banana peel-based 'bioplastic'; packaging made of Sugar beet pulp; Food-preserving bowls composed of crystallized salt and fabric-like packaging labels made of fruit and vegetable waste. These emerging materials and objects today have been designed to substitute plastic, and are ripe for use in small-format packaging.
While these innovative materials and prototypes exist, they are scattered across the globe, being created by young designers and makers who often lack the funding, infrastructure, and environment to both develop and deploy them at a large scale. This has prevented them, till now, from becoming scalable solutions and feasible substitutes for the role played being played by plastic in delivery and consumption.
What if we create small, 'Capsule' design districts, where food, beverages, toiletries, condiments and more–brought to the site in bulk, or produced in-situ– are packaged exclusively in these emerging, sustainable materials? And then delivered tactically, and locally?
- The short-range delivery and rapid, local consumption of these packaged items would align with the current abilities of many of these emerging (bio-based) materials, which are not yet geared to extremely long shelf lives, or long storage periods).
- At the same time, these small districts–using small packaging and parts such as bottle caps created locally (at design studios and workshops)– make for the right environment and incubator for these emerging materials to be rolled out and developed further. They can then become viable, long-term substitutes for plastic, and begin to be used in a widespread way, beyond the borders of a small district, armed with the added support of public interest and engagement.
- This model leverages the talent, and abilities of a small unified design district in adopting and rolling out innovative, new materials, tapping into existing networks to deliver and consume locally, and create an incubator for the large-scale development of plastic-substitutes.