Designers in Amsterdam reward community members for getting Wasted

Wasted is a community laboratory in Amsterdam Noord, where plastic waste is turned into building blocks and rubbish becomes a valuable currency.

From the Series

The Wasted Lab in Amsterdam Noord was initiated at the beginning of 2015 as a community space that would bring residents together and provide a sustainable solution to the problem of growing piles of plastic waste. The Lab aims to intervene in the normal lifecycle of plastic: moving from take, use, dispose; to take, use, reuse, while asking users to consider their rubbish as a valuable asset.

Amsterdam Noord community members are encouraged to bring bags of plastic waste to exchange at the Lab for Wasted plastic coins. The plastic is then upclycled (through a process of washing, shredding, melting and molding) into Wasted blocks: modular building blocks are used to build benches, planters, outdoor stages and other furniture for the community.

Wasted coins can be used to get deals and discounts at the local businesses and cultural organisations that are partnered with the lab (known as Wasted Friends). Rewards include free beers, discounts at supermarkets and money off bike repairs.

Material designers and engineers helped to design the process and machinery needed to create these plastic blocks. Design workshops were held in January 2015. Participants of the two week intensive program included Alexander Wiefel, a knowledgeable and experienced plastic enthusiast who can also be found on the Noun Project; Roos Meerman of Physica Manufactura, which looks into mechanical influences on natural phenomena; Bastiaan Tolhuijs, founder of NEWASTE, who is an expert at utilizing what may be considered waste to produce beautiful, new objects. Since the initial workshop Wasted designers Alessandro Iadarola, Bob Vos and Stijn van Kervel have been working hard to turn blueprints, drawings, plans and assumptions into reality. The Wasted Lab has been up and running since June 2015.

The design and technology behind the Wasted Lab has been open sourced and is available online for anyone around the world who wants to join in and get Wasted to use. Wasted is a CITIES Foundation project, CITIES is an organisation that researches and develops local solutions to global urban problems. 

*This article was amended on 25 August to include the names of the three designers – Alessandro Iadarola, Bob Vos and Stijn van Kervel – who have carried the Wasted designs through to fruition