The Polyfloss Factory project was developed at the Royal College of Art in London in 2011. The team, comprising Audrey Gaulard (textile and robotic designer), Nick Paget (industrial designer), Christophe Machet (mechanical systems engineer and designer) and Émile De Visscher (materials science engineer and designer), was exploring ecological issues and decided to devise a process for recycling plastic at a local level. After conducting various tests, the designers discovered that one of the interesting features of plastic was that it could form foam – a property which is difficult to achieve with any other everyday material. They therefore decided to produce foam from recycled plastic using a method similar to candy floss making. The Polyfloss Factory has worked with a number of institutions and schools in the United Kingdom and abroad, setting up workshops and developing new uses.
For its first edition, Ndao Hanavao invited the Polyfloss Factory, represented by French designers Christophe Machet and Émile de Visscher, to establish and develop their Polyfloss machine concept in Antananarivo, in order to set up an ongoing incubation, experimentation and training laboratory aimed at the transformation of plastic waste, a major local issue.
Plastic waste collected from the waste dumps of Antananarivo and sorted by a network of collectors then enters the production phase in the workshop set up by the two guest designers and young trainees, where the recycled plastic is transformed into finished products such as design pieces and staple items. The plastic is also sold in the form of panels, wool, rolls of felt, etc. as a building material and as a raw material for local crafts.
The project hosts ten young Malagasy trainees aged between 17 and 20 from local non-profit associations which help people to re-enter the workforce, such as Enda, Manda, and Graines de Bitume. Participants receive five to ten days training per month with introduction to design courses, French lessons, entrepreneurship and life skills classes.
From the set-up phase of the Polyfloss project in Madagascar to the development phase, participants are invited to develop entrepreneurship skills and become empowered, including developing collaborative initiatives with local craftspeople. Thus, they will have the potential to secure the production of Polyfloss wool in Madagascar and develop their own social and solidarity-based economies based on the Ndao Hanavao experimental and incubation laboratory.
« By recycling plastic in an innovative way, and integrating what is usually an industrial material into the realm of artisan re-creation, the Polyfloss Factory positions itself as a tangible, exploratory, fun and collaborative response to the pollution caused by the city’s waste. For over a year now, the two designers and the team established in situ have been assessing, analysing and identifying a range of available sources of plastic waste, in order to evaluate requirements and understand habits and lifestyles by looking at actual use. This data has made it possible to “assess the market and to identify appropriate applications” which Ndao Hanavao is embracing today. » Benjamin Loyauté Ndao Hanavao project curator
Excerpt from the text « A Fabrication Venture », 2019 Read the whole text