An open international ideas contest has been launched for new waste management solutions for plastics in marine environments (Deadline: 11 January)
Organised by Eleven and open to academics, students and professionals, the competition seeks proposals for innovative concepts to manage and reduce plastic waste in rivers, seas and oceans around the world.
The call for concepts aims to identify potential solutions to the growing problem of plastic marine debris which litters beaches and kills millions of aquatic creatures every year. Concepts should be wide-ranging and may take the form of a structure, a series of structures, a product, a vehicle, an idea, a new place, a strategy or a combination of things.
According to the brief: ‘Every year, we produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic. By design, plastic is virtually indestructible and hence very hard to deal with as waste in an ecological way. Between 8 to 12 million tons of plastic pollution end up in our oceans every year, fuelled by gigantic river systems which pump the discarded plastics from our cities to our seas.
‘Eleven designed the competition with two keywords in mind, each with a specific objective and site typology linked to it. The first is “prevention”, which is linked to rivers and focuses on halting the plastic flow. The second is the concept of “action”, which is linked to the oceans and asks to engage with the cleaning up of the existing pollution.’
Marine Debris – such as plastic bottles, cigarette stubs and fishing nets – has become a growing environmental concern and is thought to be linked to more than 100 million sea creature deaths every year. The Pacific Ocean is now home to a concentration of plastic waste as large as France and the amount of plastics in marine environments is predicted to treble over the coming decade.
The Plastic Worlds contest invites designers to propose innovative solutions to the deepening problem. Proposals may focus on any site of location and could also be adapted to harness existing structures and vehicles that are active in the environments where marine debris can be found.
The call for concepts is the twelfth organised by Eleven since it launched three years ago. Previous competitions include Planetarium and Moontopia which were followed up by Marstopia earlier this year.
The overall winner, to be announced on 11 March, will receive £2,000 while a runner-up prize of £400, readers’ choice prize of £100 and six honourable mentions will also be awarded.
How to apply
The deadline for submissions is 11am on 11 January
Registration from 9 October to 27 December: £90
Registration from 28 December to 11 January: £120
Q&A with Eloise Carr
The editor of Eleven discusses her ambitions for the competition
Why are you holding an international design contest for new ideas to combat plastic pollution?
Plastic Worlds is a direct result of our current plastic waste epidemic and the urgency to act, halt and prevent this problem. We believe this competition can be a driving force, challenging the creative community to engage with this important environmental issue and propose innovative design-led solutions to help fight our Plastic World. An international competition is a fantastic opportunity to engage the creative community in this important topic and is also the perfect way to showcase a full spectrum of proactive responses with a whole host of different ideas and outcomes.
What is your vision for the new plastic pollution fighting solutions?
We are interested in visions and proposals that can look at the themes of prevention and action. Prevention will focus on our rivers and halt the plastic flow through interventions on these massive water infrastructures. Action is linked to the oceans and focuses on ways behind the cleaning up of the existing pollution. We ask participants to focus their design on one theme or combine them for a more comprehensive strategy. Depending on your focus, your site might be one river, the 10 main polluting rivers around the world, trash islands floating in the seas, polluted beaches and islands, the main areas of polluted waters or all of the above. Design innovation is very important, particularly as this competition will require participants to come up with sustainable solutions to a multitude of problems within each theme in order to tackle this ever-growing issue.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
Architects and all designers, engineers, researchers and visionaries from around the world are welcome to apply, from students and young professionals to emerging practices and large-scale offices. Eleven was created to give a voice to the whole creative community, whether they are just starting out or have years of practice experience. We feel everyone’s ideas and creativity are of equal valued and need to be showcased alongside each other. An Eleven challenge is the perfect arena to make this happen.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
We have a lot of exciting challenges still to come on a whole variety of topics and scales ranging from realistic to conceptual themes. We like to create fun, original and challenging competitions and are always researching relevant subjects, problems and debates to provide inspiration for our future competitions.
Are there any other recent projects challenging plastic pollution that you have been impressed by?
There are a lot of interesting projects and organisations that focus their efforts on tackling plastic pollution. Whether they are a group cleaning up our beaches by hand, researchers discovering plastic eating enzymes or designers creating floating sea bins to filter the water, people are beginning to create and discover innovate projects, initiatives and solutions to clean up our waters.