Plastic is flexible, water-resistant, lightweight, versatile and inexpensive. These attractive qualities have brought us to the current situation where plastic waste can be found across every inch of our planet—from the earth's crust, where plastics and other manmade materials are now a permanent part of the geological record, to 10,994 metres below sea level in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

The UN estimates that over 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced every year. While design-led initiatives to clean up plastic from beaches, oceans and other natural environments are increasingly common, they can give the illusion that the problem is under control. The disturbing reality is that microplastics permeate far beyond that which we can manage. Localised design projects can only go so far. There is an urgent need for change both in policy making and in individual behaviours. With the EU's recent announcement about banning plastics and microplastics, this shift is slowly gaining momentum. However, the complexity and immensity of this problem, this "hyperobject," as Timothy Morton would term it, necessitates a whole range of responses.

PLASTIC WASTE unpacks the global issue of plastic pollution from theoretical, practical and speculative approaches, considering multiple viewpoints to examine a major environmental problem of our time.