Design Probes

Far-future research dialogue by Philips Design

The Paternoster is a concept for a domestic (or school) plastic waste up-cycler that uses mycelium to break down plastic packaging waste. 

In this design, plastics are ground into small chips and mixed with a fungal starter culture in a glass canister, which is slotted into a compartment of the ‘paternoster’ system.
A hand-cranked conveyor moves the canisters along a circuit. Each week plastic grounds are mixed with Mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus). It takes several weeks to break down the plastic or other waste material. At late stages in the cycle the contents are exposed to daylight (via an aperture) and air allowing the mycelium to sprout delicious mushroom fruit, ready to eat. The decomposing waste can be moulded into shapes.

The paternoster is made out of plywood and copper, and uses off the shelf bottles and containment canisters. It can be self assembled and is designed to show its workings and make the slow cycle of decomposition understandable to children.

This concept is designed to raise awareness about waste and natural methods of regeneration. This 'cycle' is etched on the cogs to intrigue children with the concept of upcycling. Paternoster is also accompanied with a children’s book based on the power of old forest mycelium in the fight against plastic waste and pollution.

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