Local Discontinuity

Useful information

Team members
Louis Rose
Bioeconomy circular economy bio-based material local waste-reduction behavioral change

Short Description

Turning organic wastes from local cafes and restaurants into bio-based materials and packaging.

Detailed Description

Emerging from my work for the EU project ReFlow in Vejle (DK), Local Discontinuity aims at replacing single-use plastic with bio-based materials, locally sourced from available organic wastes. Cancelling the need for plastic inputs upstream and upcycling organic wastes downstream, the project brings forth strong circular economy and distributed manufacturing principles.
The cycle starts with the sorting of “useful” wastes in restaurants, cafes and potentially all entities dealing with food processing or raw organic materials. Those wastes include coffee ground, fruits and vegetables peels, shells, crops leftover, stale bread… Once washed, dried and powdered, they are mixed with a bit of water to create a paste. The paste is then moulded and placed into a press where the material gets heated and shaped under high pressure.
The newly formed container is then returned to restaurants as biodegradable take-away packaging, which after use can enter the cycle again or be added to the compost!

Project Details

Does your design take social and cultural challenges and human wellbeing into consideration?

From climate change at wide to food waste, the surge in take-away food consumption or the cultural acceptance of bio-based materials, Local Discontinuity aims at creating systemic - yet localized - solutions to a bunch of seemingly discrete challenges. By addressing fairly the triple bottom line of sustainability - people, planet and profit -, the project offers to generate local economic activity, to drastically reduce the generation of waste and to play a role in progressively influencing behaviours to make sustainability the new desirable norm.

Does your design support sustainable production, embodying circular or regenerative design practices?

By sourcing most of its raw material from others’ waste streams and by keeping those resources in short circuit processes (at the scale of a neighbourhood or of a city), the project promotes strong principles of circularity and replicability. It would diminish the use of resources upstream and loop existing resources downstream; it would also limit the transportation footprint associated with packaging shipping and waste management.
While the transformation process could be pinpointed as a hotspot in terms of energy use (with the drying, shredding and heat-pressing phases), there is significant potential to use either man-powered machines, waste heat recovery systems or rain-water collection to reduce the process footprint.

Does your design use principles of distribution and open source?

Being local at heart, the project ideally lends itself to being horizontally scaled and reproduced. This would mean expanding from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and city to city to cover always more space and upcycle always more waste. In this way, the created network would be based on a single core process and community, offering mutual help and tips, but would organically adapt to local constraints and specificities. Furthermore, the same way this project already benefits from open-source knowledge (Beyond Plastic, Materiom…), it would keep enriching shared databases for empowering people to start similar activities around the world.

Does your design promote awareness of responsible design and consumption?

It is essential that sustainable designs and systems acknowledge the main motivations and drivers of the various stakeholders involved in it. End users are driven by convenience, restaurant owners by economical viability and “image”. It is by tackling those aspects first that one can convince a wider audience and steer behaviours towards more sustainability. Local Discontinuity follows exactly that pattern, collaborating closely with restaurant and cafe owners to implement easy sorting solutions and show them the economic and branding benefits of the solution. This enables bio-based packaging, and the philosophy they visually convey to their users, to be spread in town and to show users that viable, sustainable alternatives exist and are desirable.