Co-Design Ocean Plastic with the Public : Using the "SAVE THE OCEAN" Workshop as a Case Study


One severe environmental problem facing this planet is ocean plastic pollution. Despite various policies and frameworks, the challenge has been growing as countless plastics enter the marine environment and remain there, endangering the health of the ecosystems. Preventing plastics from entering the ocean and reclaiming plastic from the marine environment are equally important to address the issue. Both solutions are highly dependent on whether the public’s negative plastic-related behaviours can be changed, and whether products recycled from ocean plastic are acceptable by consumers. Therefore, citizens need to be provided with a new vision to rethink their relationship with ocean plastic to meet this challenge. This study explored the relationship between ocean plastics and society by investigating the impact, potential and public perception of ocean plastics through a participatory workshop held at the first Edinburgh Climate Festival. Prior to the social investigation, the author experimented with plastic waste collected from Scottish beaches, including polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and polyethylene terephthalate, providing participants with interactive co-design options. Using a combination of theoretical and practical approaches, the author examined public views of ocean plastic as pollution and as potential material resources, where participants were able to acquire knowledge and information about ocean plastic and interact with the recycling and making process. Findings identify public interest in reusing ocean plastic and willingness to adopt environmentally friendly behaviours towards plastic use. The study raises new implications for ocean plastic research and agendas for further research investigating the relationship between waste material, co-design, and behaviour change.


Xingyu Tao
Lecturer, Design, Photography, and Advertising, Edinburgh Napier University , Midlothian, United Kingdom


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design



Digital Media


Co-Design Ocean Plastic with the Public (pdf)