Recycling Fiction



The future of product design in a speculative recycling-world

#StudioIndustrialDesign #Master-Thesis

It is just called plastics by your average consumer and shapes our age. An age that is also characterized by highly complex products, consumerism and the resulting growing mountains of waste. Paradoxically, even while living in such a technological, progressive era, our thrash is recycled in great measure using century-old methods. Our common recycling systems are focused on materials that are relatively easy to sort and process - such as PET, paper, glass or metals. Most remains are being left out of the recycling process though; consequently, resources are dwindling. In the foreseeable future, the cycle of materials will become our most important resource.

Mikko Thewes' Master Thesis focuses on the topic of reclaiming materials - mainly all types of plastics - we now have to consider as lost. This thesis offers an outlook on the necessary changes that have to happen on all levels, economical, technological and socio-political, if we are to reach an ecologically justifiable balance for our future. New technologies and different recycling systems are brought together in possible scenarios to start a discussion about existing structures. In conclusion, the circular economy is a blueprint for a cycle of matter that carries the best possible chances of succeeding. 

The thesis' aim is to highlight the careless handling of waste and to illustrate new ways of recycling using speculative scenarios and products. The main setting is the european area of the coming 20 to 70 years. Based on sci-fi principles of world-creation, hypotheses of tomorrow's 'recycling city' shall create a platform for debate. The compiled results represent the scenarios of a versatile recycling-world that opens up a manifold of possibilities and new economic models.

Solutions are presented on four dioramas and show a combination of current technology and material recovery systems. They not only illustrate fictional city situations, but also show opportunities for future products and economic fields.


Prof. Werner Baumhakl

, Studio Industrial Design

Prof. Dr. Ralf Trachte

, Studio Industrial Design

Nicole Schneider, Alfredo Häberli

, Studio Industrial Design