Stephanie Rittler, a graduate in art and design from Burg Giebichenstein University in Germany, has designed a mobile unit that upcycles plastic bags. Rittler’s design aims to increase the lifetime of a regular plastic bag, which currently sits at around 20 minutes because people typically throw plastic bags away rather than reuse them.
Streetplastic is a hand-cranked manufacturing line designed to operate on the street. To operate Rittler’s upcycling unit, the user feeds a new plastic bag into the conveyor belt and another, old plastic bag into a manual shredder located at the top of the mobile factory.
Rittler’s manufacturing unit produces different and original results every time and it transforms plastic bags into a valuable keepsake. Streetplastic shreds the old plastic bag that was fed into the top of the unit and melts it onto the new plastic that was fed into the conveyor belt, producing a new, personalised bag. The entire process works through a manual lever.
“Consumer driven citizens can design their personal bag with their own plastic bag,” says Rittler. “It raises a paradoxical connection to their new object of value.”
Using plastic to recycle plastic is not ideal, but Streetplastic is compelling because it reassigns value to plastic bags, which we use once and then habitually throw away despite the harm that they cause to the environment. Manually cranking the machine draws the user into the production process, making them hyperaware of their carbon footprint.