Considering how much trash Baltimore’s solar-powered Trash Interceptor scoops out of the city’s harbor—50,000 pounds a day!—these floating islands made from found plastic waste might just stand a chance. With the support of the Creative Industries Firm NL, WHIM Architecture is developing a prototype of their project, the recycled island, built primarily from recycled plastic waste gathered from the North Pacific gyre and the North Sea.
The prototype seeks to first try out the concept at a small scale by building a floating house surrounded by plants. This “floating villa” will test the durability and practicality of plastic as a building material and be the test that determines whether the recycled island idea is plausible.
There are four chief aspects of the prototype island: the platform, the balustrade, the roof, and the external wall. According to information provided by WHIM, the platform will be composed of hollow plastic blocks covered with vegetation while the balustrade will be made of hollow plastic blocks filled with soil to support the aforementioned vegetation. Both the roof and the walls will be made of blocks filled with non-recyclable waste.
While the designers are currently working on a prototype island of a smaller size, the actual recycled island would be approximately the size of Hawaii’s main island. This rather sizeable floating island will sit on the Maas River in Rotterdam and act as a station to collect waste before it empties out into the North Sea.
The repurposing of plastic waste would then give the litter new economic value and may encourage people to hold onto their trash rather than improperly throw it away. Therefore the recycled island may help combat pollution and waste problems on two fronts: one by collecting waste and building with it and another by discouraging people from littering.