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Honours Project Update: Detailed Mid-Year Proposal

Christine Comelli

Here's a detailed post about my mid-year project proposal. I am proposing a tool to simplify the bioplastic-making process. I'll take you through a basic journey of my semester and how I got to the final product proposal through a few slides that I presented in my mid-year presentation :) if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section down below!

Initially I looked at food waste stats in Australia and from this, I thought 'can our food waste be turned into something useful!?'. Since I have a love for homeware and kitchenware design, I started to think about how I could turn this food waste into homewares.

I came across a book title 'Cradle to Cradle' design by Michael Braungart (chemist) and William McDonough (designer) who propose a design approach that follows nature as inspiration - essentially, creating a closed-loop design for the product life-cycle (instead of a cradle-to-grave approach like most plastic products in industry at the moment). From this, I set the task illustrated above for myself. What I wanted to do was: use food waste > to turn into a material/products > which could then be recycled in soil/as plant feed > to grow more plants > which would then return to the dinner table. And then the cycle would go on and on.

I then set my main project objectives which are listed above :) ^

I started experimenting with bioplastic recipes, and the general process of making bioplastics are listed above, but if you want to see a more detailed version, I will also attach a video below so you can see the small tasks that are involved throughout the bio-plastic-making process.

After noting how many little tools and vessels were used after making so many bioplastics, I then realised that the focus wasn't simply making homewares out of bioplastics, but more so in making bioplastic-processing easier for the everyday hobbyist so they could create their own products or casts to make products using their everyday food waste. And this is what I proposed: 

Whilst it does just look like a French press, there is more to it... :)

I will break up all of these components to show you how each part of this vessel will assist the bioplastic-making process in general.

I've added small divots into the vessel based on the density of the ingredients that need to be added so the user can pop in the peels and liquids, measuring them up to each of the points. This eliminates the need for any measuring spoons or cups and this adds up to enough bioplastic mix for a 1mm thick A4 sheet.

This is all achieved through the changeable attachments. Firstly, you have to chop up the peels into smaller chunks, so you’d use the chopping attachment by placing the lid on top and continuously raising and lowering the dowel. Once this is done, you would then pull off the lid and place in a stick blender (which I have assumed most kitchens would have). After this, the continuous addition of water and straining/pouring out of liquid is required. You repeat this step three times.

Because the body of the vessel will be made out of enamelled steel, it is able to be simply popped on the stove top which makes for easy heating and mixing of the bioplastic mix.

This step is achieved by using the tray with reversible screeder. This reversible screeder offers the opportunity to create either 1 or 2mm thick sheets by simply pouring in the bioplastic mix and running the screeder (on your side/size of preference) on the tray rail two times back and forth to create a uniform sheet. This is an improvement on me having to use my rolling pin as it was hard to create both a uniform sheet size and thickness.

And above are some general measurements/ergonomic considerations so you can understand the general scale of the product :)

So far this is the general design I have come up with and will be refining it further over the next semester up until November :) if anybody has any feedback or suggestions, I'd love to hear it! Thanks for reading up until here if you have made it this far - appreciate it! :)