Select designers will tackle plastic, which is lauded for its durability but condemned due to it's pollutant nature, at the London Design Fair.

2018 has been a big year for plastic, with the polluting polymer becoming a mainstay political and environmental touchpoint. Despite increased political polarization, 81 percent of Americans are concerned about the “the trillions of macro and micro pieces of plastics in the oceans.” Last week alone, Pope Francis called for mass action against “endless fields” of plastic polluting our oceans, and the week before that supermarket giant Kroger announced they would be phasing out all single-use plastic bags by 2025. Although plastic was first lauded for its durability when it was invented in the early 1900s, the material’s strength would also go on to become a major weakness as it quickly become a big source of pollution due to its inability to break down.

It’s why the London Design Fair has named plastic their Material of the Year. The annual four-day-long industry event selected the material as a way of celebrating designers who “tackle the problem of plastic, not by avoiding the material, but by engaging with it head-on.” Jimmy MacDonald, founder and director of London Design Fair said he wanted the fair to celebrate truly pioneering designers who go above beyond the norm when it comes to creating sustainable products: “Simply saying something is made from recycled plastic is not enough.”

Working with four design studios, it’s the second year London Design Fair has ran Material of the Year, but the first time they’ve decided to shine a light on how to overcome the issue of plastic. Weez & Merl, one of the Materials of the Year designers, specializes in Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE), commonly found in carrier bags and bubble wrap, by developing a method of melting and reforming the plastic to create a durable, marble-effect surface material, used to make coasters, tabletops, and others. Another designer, Charlotte Kidger, looks at the possibilities of polyurethane foam dust for 3D printing.  “Across the planet, single-use plastic debris is choking our oceans, microplastics are poisoning our soil, and potentially harmful synthetic chemicals are leaching into our bodies from food and drink packaging,” said a representative from the London Design Fair in a statement. “As national governments scramble over each other to introduce legislation to reduce plastic use in everyday products, the once ubiquitous substance has become a pariah on most designers’ material palettes. But not all.”

All four designers will be exhibiting their works on 20–23 September 2018 in London.