Gray’s designers open Scotland’s first ‘one stop shop’ for plastic waste

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Ben Durack and Daniel Sutherland, opening the Origin 'one stop shop' plastic recycling hub - 20-12-22
Designers from Gray’s School of Art, at Robert Gordon University (RGU), have created a highly visible, city centre plastic recycling hub, the first of its kind in Scotland.

The Origin Hub, is the brainchild of Aberdeen based start-up, Origin, a success story from RGU’s Startup Accelerator programme, and has been set up as a ‘one stop shop’ to redefine how local plastic waste is recycled.

The Origin Hub, which is based at 1-5 George Street in Aberdeen, is part of the recently launched Culture Aberdeen project that Gray’s School of Art’s creative unit, Look Again, is leading to help creatives and experimental start-up businesses revitalise unused city centre units.

Origin Director, Ben Durack, who is also a 3D Design Lecturer at Gray’s School of Art, explains more: “We want to empower members of the public to impact change on waste plastic by putting plastic recycling on show.

“Plastic is a great resource. It’s durable, strong, lightweight, water resistant and relatively easy to manufacture however we have a global waste challenge. Society currently has a ‘take-make-discard’ attitude and much of our plastics end up in landfill at the end of its short lifetime which usually lasts for less than 15 minutes.

“We want to raise awareness that there is a more sustainable option and to empower communities across the North East to support a circular economy that reduces the carbon footprint typically associated to recycling whilst ensuring waste plastic is actually recycled.

“It’s great that RGU is leading the Culture Aberdeen project to revitalise empty city centre shops. Without their support, we wouldn’t have the funding to establish a city centre shop and to raise awareness about waste plastic.”

The city centre Origin Hub will create a highly visible shop front with knee-deep plastic to highlight the amount of plastic waste in circulation, equivalent to around 7 billion tonnes to date, that a person would walk through if all the plastic waste was laid out across the UK and its islands.

The Origin team, which includes the Origin Director Daniel Sutherland and Ben Durack, who are also lecturers in 3D Design at Gray’s School of Art, plan to host workshops at the city centre hub to educate school children and members of the public.

They will also showcase their products made from recycled plastic and demonstrate how these are made, as well as introducing a line of new products the public can vote on to put into production.

Look Again Creative Director, Sally Reaper, who is leading the LACER, Culture Aberdeen Project said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Origin team is opening the Origin Plastic Hub. As a university, we are fully committed to supporting projects that help reduce our carbon footprint and we want to encourage greater sustainability in the North East of Scotland.

“The Origin Plastic Hub is an important addition to the LACER, Culture Aberdeen Project, that will help revitalise Aberdeen and improve the vibrancy of the city centre. It’s all part of wider ambition to re-code our city centre and to give more of a role to creatives and community groups who have the energy to transform unused city centre units into a new high street experience. I am excited for the public to see what can happen to plastic locally when designers transform waste into a new and unique product.”

The Culture Aberdeen project is a partnership of the city’s cultural organisations and is supported by £150,000 funding from Aberdeen City Council’s Local Authority Covid Economic Recovery Fund (LACER).

The project team is working collaboratively with old and new business partners, freelance artists, Culture Aberdeen members and the city centre communities, to transform 2 empty shop units on Schoolhill in Aberdeen.

So far, the team from Gray’s School of Art has supported the opening of Look Again’s Project Space at 32 St.Andrew Street, a pop up shop called EDIT from Deemouth Artist Studios (DAS) based at 34 Upper Kirkgate and part funded ‘Departmnt’, a retail shop run by the not-for-profit organisation, Second Home, on Gaelic Lane.

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