Voting with your waste

A Dutch design collective has come up with a fun way to make festival-goers more conscious of their rubbish.

A group of Dutch designers have partnered with Rotterdam-based Studio Squash to create an installation that addresses the problem of waste at festivals and outdoor events. The project, called Wecup, engages audiences by encouraging them to participate in a competitive ballot, where their rubbish serves as their vote.

Designers Giacomo Boffo, Alessandro Carosso and Oana Clitan collaborated with Studio Squash’s Vlad Butucariu and Irina Shapiro on the project. The public installation comprises two large transparent tubes accompanied by a question posed to passersby, who answer by throwing away their plastic cups in the relevant container.

It’s a simple concept but it functions like a live analogue infographic of public sentiment on a hot-button issue.

Outdoor events face two major problems when it comes to waste: getting people to use rubbish bins and separating out recyclables. The Wecup installation is for plastic waste only, which can be recycled easily after the event.

Wecup was trialed at the de Wereld van Het Witte de Withkwartier (WWWK) festival in Rotterdam in September 2014, where 30 000 attendees were served beverages in plastic cups. The installation offered a playful way for the festival-goers to express an opinion, while also encouraging them to be conscious of their waste.

“We were happy to see that people took it seriously and threw inside plastic trash, not any kind of waste,” says designer Oana Clitan. “They reacted to it very well. They were engaged by the statements and basically had fun while using the installations. They were taking photos with the signs and discussing them.”

Results of the votes are easily visible but are also announced on Wecup’s social media platforms.

Wecup’s designers are also looking into using the recycled plastic from the votes to make raincoats, chairs and umbrellas that could be used at festivals.

“We think it is a very interesting idea to design the entire process, from collecting the waste to recycling it and making something new out of it, so it can be a circular process,” says Clitan.

The group met while studying for their Master’s in graphic design at AKV St Joost in Breda, Netherlands, and have collaborated on various projects since then. One such project is Open Set – a graphic design summer school, which was founded by Butucariu and Shapiro in 2012. Wecup was conceived during the 2014 edition of Open Set, under the theme “Social Game”, which emphasised the social value of design.