Design students rethink plastic for degree show

Students of Central Saint Martins have worked with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to bring about a design project to tackle the future of the plastics economy.

Design students have made final products for their degree show, developing concepts for everything from coffee cups made from bamboo fibres and organic containers for take-away food, to ‘water-based’ vegetable packaging and an innovative approach to feminine hygiene products.

Studio INTO, a business consultancy led by former student of the Product Design course Joanna Brassett, who is now one of its guest lecturers, set the brief for the designers to create bold ways for plastics to be used within a circular economy.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation provided expert guidance and input to the students throughout the project, before the show ran in Kings Cross from June 21 – 25.

Nathalie Jerming-Havill, of Studio INTO, said: “We’ve worked on social innovation projects with design students for a couple of years, facilitating projects that foster creative talent and focus on design that has a real-world impact. The brief we developed with EMF challenged the students to develop new approaches to using plastic that cause less environmental impact. We gave the students the freedom to fundamentally re-think all aspects of plastic packaging and inspired them to think outside the box – on an environmental, social and business level.”

Ellen MacArthur said: “Globally only 14 per cent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling and most plastic packaging is used only once before being discarded. We need to find alternative ways of getting products to people without generating plastic waste. Our project with CSM is exciting because a new generation of creative minds has applied circular economy thinking to help create a plastics system that works: a circular economy for plastics.”

The circular design input into students’ work was supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.


  • Desalination of water in the Maldives; Rosie Sharp.
  • Redesigning Festival cups; Joey Howe.
  • Soap Dispenser; Yoo Chan Chon.
  • Mycelium-based food containers; Edmund Tonghui Zhao.
  • Turning microfibres lost during washing into products for the poor of the world; Jaz Tsui Affleck.
  • Waste picker drone; Camilla Chappuis-Hanson.
  • Recycled plastic cutlery; Laurene Pilastre.
  • Joy Jelly soy for sushi; Nicolas Trupin.
  • Making toy packaging part of the product rather than waste; Keyi Chen.
  • Redesigning hospital packaging for sterile, surgical products; Brian Wong.
  • Water-based vegetable packaging; Merle Dingeldey.
  • Coffee cups with bamboo filters; Katharine Paton-King.
  • Refillable cosmetic bottles; Aminatta M’Baye.
  • Rethinking feminine hygiene products and a system for their disposal; Kaye Toland.
  • Water Bar; Kasuma Arunanondchai. Eco-Toothbrush; Michelle Chin.
  • Redesigned milk pouch; Melvin Stol.




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