Studio Nienke Hoogvliet has harnessed a method of transforming wastewater into bioplastic, and used it to create a sustainable cremation urn.
The Delft-based studio took advantage of a method developed by the Dutch Water Authorities to create the Mourn urns, which it presented during Dutch Design Week. They are made from a particular bioplastic, called PHA, that can be produced from bacteria found in sewage water. It has similar properties to regular plastic, but biodegrades at a similar rate to wood.
The Dutch Water Authorities have been working for several years to refine the process of producing PHA. The material is derived from a certain type of bacteria that is initially put into the water to purify it, and remains after the water becomes waste. While working as a cleaning agent, it produces a fatty acid – and it is this that forms the basis for the bioplastic.
“One of the biggest issues is that the nutrients and toxins are immediately available for the soil to process when the ashes are scattered,” said Hoogvliet. “To reduce the negative impact of toxins and nutrients, their release should be slowed down and regulated.”
Photography by Femke Poort