Seventeen findings on EPS

Teresa Franqueira is a professor and researcher at the Department of Communication and Art at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, and was elected, in past December, the international coordinator of the network for social innovation and sustainability of the DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability).

She argues that, without design, sustainability is difficult to achieve. For this very reason, she accepted the challenge of organizing the first Hackathon hosted by the OCEANWISE project at Design Factory Aveiro (DFA). The hackathon challenged over 40 participants to create innovative solutions to solve problems linked to the worrying source of foamed polystyrene products (EPS and XPS) marine litter in the Atlantic Ocean.

We went to meet her and took four questions with us.

You recently assumed the coordination of the international network of DESIS, which promotes sustainable changes based on design. What strength can design give to sustainable creation?

Design plays a fundamental role in the design of sustainable solutions. There are studies that state that 70 to 80% of the environmental impact of products is defined in the initial design phase and are the design decisions, from the type of materials to disposal at the end of the life cycle, through the interaction and emotional relationship that users, which determine future behavior. In addition to products, design plays a decisive role in the creation of product-service systems, in which it is possible to reduce the idea of ownership and move on to the concept of usufruct and sharing, reducing the ecological footprint. If we think about service design or design for social innovation, we can see the importance of design in creating new, more sustainable behaviors.

The first Hackathon, in December last year. You were there. How important can it be to unite students and professionals in the field of design for marine sustainability?

Design Factory Aveiro was responsible for organizing the 1st Hackathon and my participation was in that role. Design’s contribution is extremely important for the development of products and services and for the approach and awareness of sustainability. The creation of teams of university students and professionals to jointly develop proposals and tools that contribute to solving the problem of marine litter, guided by Design methodologies and with the support of expert mentors, proved to be the right option and with results useful and interesting for the proposed problem. Students have a more uncompromised view and professionals have more pragmatic views regarding the problem and possible solutions and it is through the combination of these two views that the most creative and innovative proposals often appear. There is a bidirectional learning process that allows you to think of less common and usual strategies.

What are the most interesting solutions that came out of this meeting?

Two very interesting solutions have emerged, focused on consumer awareness and responsibility. One of them more linked to schools and the educational issue and raising awareness among children, which implies experiences and upcycling of waste and garbage, and another with a recycling service to be implemented in retail companies, to raise the awareness of an adult audience that does department stores.

From the point of view of the solutions that have been created internationally to reduce the impact of EPS and XPS on marine sustainability, and having Teresa a position that looks at what is going on abroad: what project would you highlight in terms of design?

There are many initiatives and projects in this area of great quality at national level, mainly in the footwear area. Internationally there are interesting cases in the area of furniture and packaging. I leave some exemples.

From water bottles to furniture, find out the best examples Teresa Franqueira gives from the best solutions:

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