Masami will show The Milk of Human Kindness: Feeding a debate on food waste through material innovation at the London Design Festival. The project is one of 30 cutting edge projects selected for exhibition in The Fifth element which looks at Science Technology and Process in Design.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 15 billion litres of milk are wasted in European households each year. We can turn this waste into plastic, and into products.
A novel moulding technique, developed during this project, allows the manufacture of large milk-protein plastic objects – in contrast to the small artefacts carved out of the ivory-like material when it was first developed in the 19th century.
In this alternative scenario of dairy consumption, cows deliver a local waste milk collection service, carrying large containers mounted on packsaddles from door to door. This animal-powered waste management system draws on a current trend of waste collection by horse, observed in more than 60 French and Swedish cities. Spoiled milk is then quickly brought to local casein-plastic manufacturing workshops, where it is turned, with minimal resource and energy input, into biodegradable moulded casein objects: a plastic milking stool and a work/protection suit for the militant farmer, inspired by recent dairy protests.
These objects are macroscopes, illustrating the life-story of dairy matter, its origin, consumption, dismissal, and transmutation. They reflect the crisis of the European dairy industry, historically undermined by overproduction. This long-lasting dairy abundance – butter mountains and milk lakes – culturally enables wastage. Yet milk losses aggravate the effects of the pressure livestock puts on resources, polluting land, air and water. With an understanding of the environmental and social cost of food waste, an informed public can converge around this milk-plastic framework.