Masami Charlotte Lavault
MA Industrial Design graduate, Central Saint Martins
The Milk of Human Kindness: Feeding a debate on food waste through material innovation
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.
25/07/13 Designersblock visited Masami at her studio in CSM
‘Brainiac’ fact of the day; Milk can be made into plastic!
When we arrived at CSM we had to go through the standard, very strict security protocol before then meeting Masami, for which promised to be a very interesting discussion about her recently completed MA, (described in detail above in her words) and her plans for presenting it with Designersblock in the up coming ‘Edition 16’ exhibition.
‘The Milk of Human Kindness’, was initially sparked by a news report early October last year about the European milk industry. It quickly generated into a strong interest and within no time the basis of a whole years project; ‘How can we make the most of the 15 billion litres of wasted milk in Europe?’
The title of the project in itself encompasses the ethos of Masami’s whole approach. She is interested in the positive social impacts the project could have, bridging the gap between farmers and wasteful consumers. The industry in itself is very efficient, shockingly for me the majority of waste comes from ‘us’ the consumer. Our demand for constant supply and convenience, our demand for a stable price and our ease with just pouring half down the sink as it was cheaper to buy more than we needed.
Masami initially started the project by actually collecting spoiled milk, however to make the project successfully for fill her point of social awareness she had to start using fresh, this by no means takes anything away from the project. And only allows for a beautifully executed and perfect all round project; highlighting a current political, environmental and social issue whilst generating a new material to explore and manipulate.
An ambitious designer she new exactly how she wanted to present her work and had everything in place from previous exhibitions. A wooden cow (as depicted above) to display the collection system of spoiled milk. A plinth to display the stool and a manikin for the farmers jacket (below) this organisation and professional approach just shows her potential success.
My favourite discovery was the only additions to the milk were vinegar and steam to form the plastic. The steam process also means that there is the potential to emboss the plastic, create text or surface design, Masami commented that this further manipulation maybe the next step for the physical product.
However her main aim is to focus on working with the social frame work of the project, such as running workshops with farmers rather than the physical products themselves. To find out more about this fully formed project and how it could potentially develop further make sure to visit in September and take the pleasure to talk with Masami yourself, one of this years best graduates.