In the first chapter, we will trace the journey of our plastic waste through the many nodes of our delicate yet complex recycling supply chain to the islands in Indonesia, where thousands of workers meticulously collect, clean, and sort our waste by hand to prepare it for recycling. It’s a long journey that unfortunately allows one to forget about their trash, lose connection to materials, or feel helpless seeing a problem so domestic yet so far away. I aim to provide some visibility into the waste supply chain, tracking the path it takes as it travels through multiple factories across the globe.
Circling back to Vancouver, we’ll continue to MELT Collective’s Lab. Here, these complex recycling processes are distilled into a room with machines and tools that empower people to transform waste into something useful and beautiful. Beyond plastic, MELT facilitates transdisciplinary collaboration in various circular economy projects – from cigarette skateboards to mushroom toilets.
I will explain the origins and goals of MELT Collective and showcase some key projects from the early days that had a big impact on the direction of the organization, how we can bridge the silos of the university, and why this is so important when building a circular economy. I will then showcase some of the projects I am directly involved in, along with some insights into how architecture can be enhanced by considering the circular economy.