Mmcité on a “cultural mission” to make cities more beautiful through public furniture

Promotion: Czech brand Mmcité has been creating urban furniture for 30 years but continues to adapt to the “constantly evolving” needs of public space, says founder and creative director David Karásek.

Mmcité‘s benches, bins, bike racks and bus shelters can be found in 40 countries around the world, from Mont Blanc to the Dubai Water Canal and Google’s global headquarters in California.

It is known for durable yet aesthetically pleasing products developed in collaboration with Czech and overseas designers. The output is as varied as it is prolific, with everything coming out of its design studio in the town of Uherské Hradiště in the south-east of the Czech Republic, close to the Slovakian border.

Mmcité street furniture in Poland
Mmcité’s street furniture is now in 40 countries

Through its contributions to public space, the brand sees itself as a leading producer of high-quality design accessible to everyone.

“For Mmcité this is nothing short of a cultural mission,” explained Karásek. “We highly value our cities, so we are always pushing to make them more beautiful.”

“Public spaces in a city are fascinating places where people and history meet,” he told Dezeen. “I am proud that we focus Mmcité design right here – we can influence everybody’s taste, and we love that.”

Mmcité founder and creative director David Karásek
David Karásek founded the brand in 1994 and remains creative director

Street furniture is sometimes regarded as an under-appreciated design discipline, but Karásek believes the best examples deliberately avoid drawing attention to themselves.

“Yes, street furniture can be overlooked, and I partly think it’s a good thing,” he said. “It means it doesn’t disrupt the given place, it is not too loud. Instead, it fits in and complements the surrounding architecture.”

Balancing high aesthetic standards with all the requirements of street furniture – such as durability, affordability, sustainability and inclusivity – is a tall order.

Bus shelter by Mmcité
The company designs from its studio in Uherské Hradiště

As a result, Mmcité sometimes spends years developing its products – some of which never see the light of day.

“We develop products honestly, and they must always meet all essential parameters,” said Karásek.

“Well-designed street furniture can be compared to well-designed architecture,” he added. “Functional buildings bring us joy in their use – thoughtful layout and aesthetics influence our daily lives and our senses.”

“The same principles are applied in our field to urban furniture and public spaces.”

Morse seating from Mmcité
Seating collection Morse is among the brand’s recent launches

Mmcité’s most recently launched products are the Morse seating collection, designed by Belgian design practice Studio Segers, and the UFO public shelter, designed in-house. They join the Typo 3D-printed concrete planters among the brand’s recent releases. The Morse and UFO designs recently scooped Red Dot Awards.

Taking its name from the dot-dash communication method, Morse consists of round or stadium-shaped seats positioned along a single linear bar.

Customisable and available in a range of materials, it is intended for use indoors or out, such as in parks, on riverbanks or in airport terminals.

Mmcité's Morse seating
Its design is informed by morse code

UFO is an alternative to umbrella-based shelters that rely on a central mast. Its sturdy steel frame is topped by a fabric dome stretched over laminate rods.

An optional levitating circular platform turns the UFO into a daybed, which the brand said is a response to an increasing trend for people seeking undisturbed relaxation in public spaces.

Shifting demands of public spaces require Mmcité to continue to innovate after three decades of designing urban furniture, Karásek explained.

UFO shelter by Mmcité
The UFO offers an alternative to more conventional umbralla-shaped public shelters

“Like every area of our lives, public space is constantly evolving,” he said. “Private merges with public. There are also elements appearing that were not there before and stem from our life needs.”

“These can be smart elements for charging our mobile devices, green roofs that, among other things, reduce dustiness in cities, or inclusive elements.”

One key change is the move away from car-centric urban design in some cities around the world, said Karásek.

Woman sitting under UFO shelter by Mmcité
The demands on public space are changing, according to Karásek

“Mobility in cities is changing, and in some markets, we see a tendency to remove cars from metropolitan public spaces,” he noted.

“In other markets, so-called 15-minute cities are emerging, addressing people’s needs within walking distance. Thanks to having everything within reach, city life is much better, and our products must respond to this.”

For Mmcité, Karásek explained, innovating in response to these wider factors is “we are not talking about any revolution but about continuous evolution”.

Two types of UFO shelters from Mmcité
Keeping up with changing trends is “about continuous evolution”

Despite a string of accolades to its name over the years, including Good Design, Red Dot, IF Design, EDIDA, and Czech Grand Design awards, Karásek is most proud when Mmcité’s products continue to be used by the public over long periods of time.

“They function in public spaces for 20 years and are still a full part of it,” he said.

“Sometimes we can see them seemingly destroyed, for example, tagged, which gives them a patina but at the same time, they are fully functional. So, we are delighted with thousands of products and projects worldwide.”

For more information on Mmcité, visit its website here.

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Encanto upholstery fabric by Skopos Fabrics

Encanto upholstery fabric by Skopos Fabrics

Dezeen Showroom: British brand Skopos has created a range of fabric upholstery named Encanto, designed to add pops of colour and texture to a range of commercial spaces.

Made from soil- and stain-resistant polyester, it aims to be a stylish upholstery option that performs well in high-traffic areas, including office, education, care, high-end hospitality and cruise ship interiors.

Encanto upholstery fabric by Skopos Fabrics
Encanto comes in three pattern designs

Encanto is available in three designs that come in a range of colourful and neutral tones, including a subtle fractured herringbone pattern called Onda.

Loco is a small-scale check pattern and the plain textured design is named Cuba.

Encanto upholstery fabric by Skopos Fabrics
It was designed for a range of commercial spaces

“The three designs offer amazing performance without compromising on style,” said Skopos Fabrics. “The choice within the collection is designed to compliment a range of different interior schemes.”

According to Skopos Fabrics, Encanto is halogen-free, made with a flame-retardant backing and offers antimicrobial protection.


Product details:

Product: Encanto
Brand: Skopos Fabrics
Contact: sales@skopos.co.uk

Material: polyester
Colours/finishes: available in textured plain, fractured herringbone and small check

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Defining the New Meaning of Responsible Design With the ECONYL Brand

Defining the New Meaning of Responsible Design With the ECONYL Brand

As we celebrate Earth Day, let’s take a minute to talk about what it means to achieve responsible design in today’s world: a balanced social, environmental, and economical approach focused on ethical practices that are inclusive and sustainable. Boiled down to its essence, responsible design is created with all people and the planet at its core. Earth Day was not only founded to share much-needed information and bring attention to protecting our planet, but also as a reminder that we should be creating a better world for all of its inhabitants.

Three vertical panels showing close-ups of different textured materials

We’ve shared Aquafil brand ECONYL® nylon before, impressed by the recycled material’s innovative recycling process and high quality. The ECONYL® Regeneration System takes fishing nets, carpeting, and industrial plastic waste that’s sorted and cleaned before the recovered nylon waste is recycled back to its original purity. At the end, ECONYL® regenerated nylon has exactly the same quality and performance as fossil-based nylon. It’s then turned into yarns and polymers used by brands in the fashion, interior, interiors, hospitality, and automotive industries to create new products. The material can then be recycled infinitely when fed back into the same process without losing quality.

Two round poufs in beige and gray, each with a contrasting red handle on a white background.

Snowsound Oouf by Caimi

In the architecture and design industries, responsible design means considering materials and choosing those that are better for the environment and more functional for end users, such as ECONYL® regenerated nylon. The meaning branches out further when the fast-growing field of inclusive design enters the conversation. Creating spaces that help neurodivergent individuals feel more comfortable by considering potential hypo- and hypersensitivities related to touch, sound, smell, temperature, etc., is only going to become more prevalent in the future. After NeoCon 2023, ThinkLab even called attention to the number of approachable, user-friendly solutions that are lightweight, easy to reconfigure, and can adapt over time that were present at last year’s tradeshow.

Close-up of a crumpled rug with abstract blue and white patterns and a prominent orange spot.

Handknotted Sarawagi Rug

“The topic of inclusive design is going to become more prevalent as designers are asked to reimagine shared spaces, like offices and community centers. Groups collaborate better when everyone thinks and works differently, but those differences also come with varying environmental sensitivities and preferences. Inclusive design is considerate of all people,” says Maria Giovanna Sandrini, Chief Communication Officer of Aquafil Group.

Red carpet samples with varying textures and patterns displayed, some rolled up

That said, how can designers further support responsible, inclusive design? We’re going to have to dig deeper than appearance into the science behind design to create more products and spaces that can be used and enjoyed by all. Our brains are wired in many different ways, and searching out flexible solutions that will benefit everyone will also serve to empower and support each person’s needs by creating environments that respect and accommodate equity, diversity, and inclusivity. This period of design is an exciting one to be working in, with the opportunity to influence the quality of life for both individuals and the community on a large scale.

Assorted metal pulls and levers with different colors and configurations displayed on a white background.

TOCCO Collection by pba

Italian design and manufacturing organization, pba, worked in collaboration with RainlightSTUDIO and Kay Sargent, a cognitive and sensory wellbeing design consultant, to make conscious design decisions that consider the tactile preferences of the neurodiverse population. Using ECONYL® nylon for the grips, they created the TOCCO Collection: sustainable, interchangeable handles, levers, and pulls designed to consider people and the planet. Made to be easily disassembled and 100% recycled, they’re available in a range of colors and two hand grips – smooth and textured – so there’s no compromising on options or style.

Modern office interior with yellow accents, exposed ductwork on the ceiling, and rows of desks and swivel chairs.

TOCCO Collection by pba

“Architecture and psychology are an inseparable pairing. When we design spaces, we must think about the way people perceive and interact with their environment,” says Erica Anesi, CEO of pba. “We must also think about how the things we create impact the planet, from how materials are sourced to where they end up at the end-of-life.”

Close-up of various colored handles and levers arranged in a row, showcasing shades of black, gray, white, and red.

TOCCO Collection by pba

One of the biggest challenges currently related to inclusive design is how to communicate it more effectively. While there are existing ways to measure environmental impact, evaluating inclusivity and product impact is still being investigated. By creating modular, adaptable spaces with innovative materials like ECONYL® nylon, we know that designs can work better for all people while being easier to disassemble, repair, reuse, and recycle. “Modular, adaptable designs are the future. Furniture, hardware, and flooring that are designed to be easily disassembled can be installed and positioned for different preferences,” says Sandrini.

To learn more about how you can incorporate ECONYL® nylon into your next responsibly designed product or project, visit econyl.com/interiordesign.

OFIS Arhitekti clads geometric home in Slovenia with red-brick tiles

Frame house by OFIS Arhitekti

Slovenian studio OFIS Arhitekti has completed Frame House, a family home in Ljubljana clad in red-brick tiles that play on the area’s pitched-roof buildings.

Frame House is located in the city’s suburbs and designed by OFIS Arhitekti with a footprint of 200 square metres so as not to intrude on the site’s large rear garden.

Exterior courtyard within Frame house in Slovenia
A large canopy with pitched sides shelters an entrance patio

The home has a geometric form, fronted by a large canopy with pitched sides. This shelters a paved entrance patio intended as a place for the client’s children to play.

OFIS Arhitekti placed a hole in the canopy to provide an existing tree with light and space to grow.

Facade view of Frame house in Ljubljana
Perforated metal screens and large windows animate the exterior

“As the client loves gardening the idea was to place the house in a way that keeps the back garden as large as possible,” OFIS Arhitekti co-founder Rok Oman told Dezeen.

“Therefore the back of the house is flat and simple, while the entrance yard provides sufficient space for cars and is partly covered with a canopy also creates space for kids to play,” he added.

Exterior view of family home by OFIS Arhitekti
The home is clad in red-brick tiles typically used on roofs

Frame House’s cut-out on the front elevation contains the entrance and access to a single-storey storage area, both clad in blackened timber.

Inside, OFIS Arhitekti has created a ground-floor living, dining and kitchen space with views of the garden through large sliding glass doors that open onto a stone-paved terrace.

On the home’s northwestern side, the kitchen is lined by full-height windows and perforated metal screens to provide greater privacy.

Three bedrooms are located on the first floor, which leads onto a rooftop terrace to the north. This is sheltered by a sloping parapet created by the canopy at the front of the home.

Kitchen and dining interior within family home by OFIS Arhitekti
The ground floor living spaces frame views of the garden

Frame House’s exterior is deliberately simple, clad entirely in red-brick tiles typically used on roofs, with areas of perforation made to offer glimpses into and out of the interiors.

“Red brick is traditional material for the pitched 45 degrees-roof residential houses that mostly surrounds the area,” said Oman.

“However the main volume of Frame House has a flat roof so in a way the red-brick envelope creates a sort of play with the idea of a traditional red-brick pitched roof,” he added.

Living space within Frame house by OFIS Arhitekti
Concrete and wooden surfaces line the interior

Inside, this reddish-brown exterior is contrasted by exposed concrete walls and ceilings and pale wooden floors, chosen to create “cosy and comfy” spaces that provide a minimal backdrop to the garden.

OFIS Arhiteki is led by Oman and Spela Videcnik. Previous projects by the studio include a glazed star-gazing retreat in Andalusia and a prototype house built from adaptable modules.

The photography is by Tomaz Gregoric.

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Is a plastic-free future possible?

Photo of plastic collected during a community cleanup and sorted by colour.

With Earth Day 2024 and an increasing number of environmental campaigners calling for an end to plastics, is time finally up for the 20th century’s miracle material? Rima Sabina Aouf finds out if we can – and should – abolish plastic.

Earth Day 2024 has the theme of “Planet vs Plastics”, campaigning for “the end” of the material starting with a 60 per cent reduction in plastic production by 2040 and ultimately building to a “plastic-free future”.

“Better to incinerate plastic than recycle it”

The proposal is indicative of a broader escalation in the rhetoric around plastic.

In the face of mounting evidence of dangers to the health of people and planet, and with lobbying efforts ramping up as United Nations member states work towards a draft of a global plastics treaty by the end of this year, more abolitionist voices are emerging, and even clashing with campaigners for circularity.

Sian Sutherland, co-founder of advocacy group A Plastic Planet and alternative materials database PlasticFree, is among those who believe we should put an end to plastics – recycling and all.

“It is better to incinerate the plastic – safely – than it is to perpetuate its toxic existence by recycling it,” Sutherland told Dezeen.

Photo of a large pile of plastic bottles and cans at a recycling facility in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic
Evidence about the harmful health and environmental impacts of plastic is growing. Photo by Elbert Lora via Unsplash. Top photo by Jas Min via Unsplash

“We need to take plastic out of our system wherever possible. And if we burn it, despite the fact we are simply burning fossil fuels that were momentarily a bottle or plastic bag, we are taking it out of the system.”

She points out that at the current rate, global plastic production is forecast to increase threefold by 2060, and that the reality is that little of it is recycled – around 5 per cent in the US and less than 10 per cent in the UK.

She also backs a recent report from the Center for Climate Integrity, which claimed that the plastics industry has spread disinformation about the efficacy of recycling as a sales tactic in the same way that oil companies have more famously obscured the climate impacts of fossil fuel.

“Recycling is the fig leaf of consumption,” added Sutherland. “Makes us feel better but never actually fixes the problem. It simply prolongs it.”

“We have mostly stopped material innovation”

Plastic-abolitionists like Sutherland argue that only binding phase-out commitments will channel investment into developing viable alternative materials.

“The answer to the ‘is it possible’ is this: for the last 50 years we have mostly stopped material innovation, because we had this miracle called plastic,” said Sutherland. “It has become the default for almost everything – products, packaging, building materials, textiles.”

Labelling plastic a “toxic, indestructible material”, she adds that a ban would create “a vacuum that innovation will quickly fill with better, safer, nature-compatible materials”.

“The odds are against all innovation whilst we still swallow the myth that recycling plastic is (a) happening and (b) the answer,” said Sutherland.

Relevant technologies are beginning to emerge. Bio-based and biodegradable solutions made from crop waste, vegetables, mushroom mycelium, bacteria-forged cellulose and algae seek to emulate the light and pliable qualities that make plastic so integral to modern life.

Photo of an potato-based alternative to single-use plastic by Great Wrap
Australian company Great Wrap created a compostable bioplastic alternative to clingfilm made from waste potatoes. Photo by Shelley Horan

Some designers are making do with what’s already available. Richard Hutten, who at the 2019 Dezeen Day conference described plastic as “the cancer of our planet” and recycling as “bullshit”, has managed to design almost entirely without plastic for years.

“Almost”, because plastics – polymer-based materials usually derived from petroleum or natural gas – are so ubiquitous they’re in products we don’t even think about.

“The only plastic I’ve been using is paint on steel,” Hutten told Dezeen. “It is almost impossible to avoid plastic completely.”

In recent years he has made a barstool for British manufacturer Modus from cork and redesigned mid-century classics by Wim Rietveld with a mix of biodegradable latex and coconut hair in place of plastic foam.

“Plastic is not bad, it’s just completely overused”

But for other environmental advocates, the idea of eliminating plastic misses the real problem: that most of the world today does not value the recovery of materials, of any type.

We may be able to replace every variety of plastic in time, but as long as we live with overconsumption and disposability we will continue to deplete the planet’s resources, they argue.

“Plastic is not bad,” Thomas Matthews partner and sustainability expert Sophie Thomas told Dezeen. “It’s just completely overused, and we don’t have the proper infrastructure to get it back in the system.”

She points out that from its beginnings in the 1950s, plastic has been sold to consumers as a throw-away luxury that represented progress after the sacrifices of the second world war, when countries including the UK had strict salvage campaigns to collect household waste for reuse to make weaponry and counter slowdowns in imports.

Photo of Wim Rietveld's 1401 chairs for Gispen, redesigned by Richard Hutten to have a mix of natural latex and coconut hair cushioning instead of plastic foam
Hutten redesigned Wim Rietveld’s 1401 chairs to have a mix of natural latex and coconut hair cushioning instead of plastic foam. Photo courtesy of Gispen

“Every material had to be given back – bones, paper, string – everything had to go into the war effort,” Thomas said. “So now this plastic comes along and it’s like, don’t worry about it. Use it once, throw it away.”

“This is the kind of positive, clean, quick, cheap, colourful future that we wanted to bring in after the war.”

Instead of changing those patterns of use, Thomas sees brands and manufacturers rushing to replace plastics in the name of sustainability, sometimes with alternatives that have a worse environmental impact.

One example is substituting plastic takeaway containers with paper, usually with a plastic lining that can’t be separated, making both materials unrecyclable.

By contrast, PET and especially HDPE – two commonly used packaging plastics – are the easiest to recycle, when not fused to other materials.

“Complexity is the worst thing for recycling,” said Thomas. “Monomaterial is the way we should go – bio-monomaterials especially.”

Not all plastics are the same, and Thomas does advocate for banning some of them, such as PVC – widely used in construction – and polyurethane foam.

Both, she says, are difficult to recycle and full of “nasty” volatile organic compounds.

Design studio Layer recently developed the Mazzu Open mattress, which swaps out polyurethane foam for less toxic and more recyclable polyester-wrapped springs.

“Polyester is incredibly durable and has a long life – and it’s this quality that makes it a useful material in design, as designing for longevity is one of the most powerful tools we have in terms of sustainability,” Layer founder Benjamin Hubert told Dezeen.

“Foam has a much shorter lifespan before it loses its functionality, and – unlike polyester – is not recyclable. The trade-off for us here is really clear.”

“All recycled plastic ends up as waste”

Much of the debate around abolishing plastics comes down to recycling.

While glass or aluminium can be recycled infinitely without degrading, the molecular structure of plastics gets weakened every time they go through the extrusion process until they can’t feasibly be used any further. For single-use plastics, in particular, that means a very short lifespan.

For abolitionists, the compromised quality of recycled plastic makes it misleading to label the process “recycling” at all – hence Hutten’s “bullshit” claim.

“In the most optimistic view, you could call recycling of plastic down-cycling,” he said. “Eventually, all recycled plastic ends up as waste.”

“It will never be a financially and materially viable solution,” added Sutherland. “There is no economic model that makes sense – or to be honest Coca-Cola would have built the system years ago to recycle their 120 billion bottles every year.”

Those who think there is still a place for plastic advocate for longer-life products within a system where collection and recycling can be guaranteed.

Photo of the Mazzu Open mattress showing individual polyester-covered springs by design studio Layer
Layer’s Mazzu Open mattress replaces polyurethane foam with polyester-covered springs. Photo courtesy of Layer

Recycled-plastic design brands such as Circuform and Smile Plastics call their furniture and sheet material circular as they can be recycled repeatedly – four times at a minimum, according to Circuform.

PearsonLloyd co-founder Luke Pearson, who focuses on circularity, agrees that plastic can be “mostly circular” if designed “intelligently”.

By avoiding additives such as glass fibre, limiting colour, and adding a small amount of virgin plastic when needed for strength, existing material can be kept in the system for a very long time, he says.

As for chemical recycling – the expensive, hazardous and energy-intensive new technology that breaks down plastic to its basic building blocks so it can be remade with its original strength – Thomas believes it could one day serve as a final step to close the loop on plastic, after mechanical recycling options have been exhausted.

“We have to develop the infrastructure for plastic where you actually get that closed loop, otherwise you will have to go for a complete ban of the material,” said Thomas.

“And then what? We’d have to plant huge amounts of trees if we’re going to substitute with paper or any crop-based biomaterials.”

“There really is no time”

Plastic-abolitionists and circularity advocates agree on a number of points: we need legal restrictions on single-use and toxic plastics, we need funding for biomaterials, and we need to change habits.

The upcoming UN plastics treaty provides an opportunity to realise these proposals. But while some sense momentum towards positive change, longtime plastic abstainer Hutten admits that he has lost some of his optimism.

Recently, he created his first plastic piece in years: a one-off cupboard called Atlas, named after the Titan in Greek mythology who carried the world on his shoulders.

Photo of the Atlas cupboard by Richard Hutten
Hutten’s Atlas cupboard is a reflection of the designer’s waning optimism. Photo courtesy of Hutten

In his “reversed Atlas”, a comment on the futility of design in tackling the pollution crisis, the Earth is depicted as collapsing under the weight of humankind.

Sutherland, meanwhile, is in high gear trying to get provisions such as cuts to production volumes of plastics, bans on single-use items and mandated chemical testing into the UN treaty.

“We need to leapfrog the ‘less bad’ to ‘regeneratively good’ in all materials and systems now,” said Sutherland. “There really is no time for any other approach.”

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Tesla recalls Cybertrucks after reports of faulty pedals causing unwanted acceleration

Tesla Cybertruck recalled

Car company Tesla has issued a recall of nearly all Cybertrucks sold to date, following reports of its accelerator pad becoming stuck at “full throttle”.

The recall applies to 3,878 vehicles produced between 13 November and 4 April, when Tesla started utilising soap as a lubricant to aid assembly in an “unapproved change” to the manufacturing process, according to a report from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

In at least two reported cases, residues of this lubricant caused the accelerator pad to detach from its pedal and become trapped in the car’s interior trim, causing unwanted acceleration.

“It held the accelerator down 100 per cent at full throttle,” one driver describes in a video that seems to demonstrate the issue.

This can “increase the risk of a collision” according to the NHTSA, although a fallback mechanism built into the car ensures that its break can override the accelerator and bring the car to a stop.

No reported crashes

So far, Tesla says it has not received any reports of accidents, injuries or deaths caused by the issue.

Cybertruck deliveries were temporarily paused at the beginning of April due to the fault but have now resumed with a new accelerator pedal.

Owners of the 3,878 Cybertrucks affected by the recall – which, according to TechCrunch, is nearly all of them sold to date – will have to bring their cars into a service centre for a free repair.

Tesla’s Cybertruck has been marred in controversy since the concept was first unveiled in 2019, with critics decrying it as “ridiculous” and “dystopian”.

Since deliveries started last December, some owners have also complained of rust and a lack of pinch sensors in the doors, which could lead to injuries.

At the end of last year, Tesla also had to issue a recall on most of its other vehicles due to problems with its Autopilot system, which have since been resolved via a software update.

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“A 60 per cent reduction in plastic is the bare minimum we need the world to do”

Earth Day plastics opinion

We need to end our use of plastics for the sake of the planet and human’s health, writes the director of Earth Day‘s end plastic initiatives Aidan Charron.


Plastics have become ubiquitous in our lives, they are everywhere and unavoidable but it hasn’t always been like that. They are relatively new materials and while they do have some benefits, they are overused! Why the hell do we need to wrap a peeled orange in a clamshell container? Who does that benefit?

This has to stop. We need to end plastics for the sake of human and planetary health. This is why we are demanding a 60 per reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040.

Production of plastic is twice as high as 20 years ago with no sign of slowing down

Like smoking and lead in the 20th century, we know so little about the over 15,000 chemicals that can make up plastics and regard them as harmless. Of those chemicals, over 4,200 are hazardous, while only 980 are regulated and the vast majority of the other 11,000 or so are just not studied or regulated at all.

Our use of plastics is still increasing, with production of plastic twice as high as 20 years ago with no sign of slowing down. If we continue at our current trends, plastic use will triple from current levels in less than 40 years.

We don’t have the technology or ability to handle the waste we currently have, so what will happen in 2060 if we triple production? Pictures of choked waterways, ocean-floor littering and trashed public areas will be the norm – not to mention the massive health implications of plastic and its additive chemicals.

Currently, plastics contribute $250 billion to healthcare costs annually in the United States alone. This stems from the diseases caused by the many chemicals such as PFAS, bisphenols and phthalates, which provide the unique characteristics of each plastic.

It is clear we need to ween ourselves of plastic

Last year the Earthday.org team set out to analyze and produce a report that goes over the main health issues that arise from plastic use, specifically those we are seeing in infants and children. The information we found was staggering. Microplastics are bioaccumulating in our major organs, being found in human placentas, detected in breast milk.

It’s scary enough that they are able to penetrate all of these places. But even worse, they are actively contributing to general and childhood cancer rates the world over, with phthalate exposure linked to a 20 per cent increase in childhood cancer.

I could dive into more, including how infertility rates are increasing because of decreased sperm quality, while plastics production has risen. But if what I’ve highlighted so far doesn’t frighten you a bit, I don’t know what will (maybe the mention of the decrease in male genitalia size).

It is clear we need to ween ourselves of plastic. So, why a 60 per cent reduction by 2040 and is this possible? In my opinion, it is not only possible but the bare minimum we need the world to do.

At present 50 per cent of all plastic is single-use and the majority of that is single-use packaging that is not recyclable. Globally only nine per cent of all plastics are recycled. In the United States, it’s only five per cent.

We need a ban on single-use plastics, our throwaway culture is new and needs to go away.

We need a ban on single-use plastics, our throwaway culture is new and needs to go away. Reuse, reuse, reuse should be how we think about most things, especially plastic. If we eliminate single-use plastic, that’s 50 per cent of our reduction right there, with only 10 per cent to go.

Looking backwards can be a great way to move forward and the call for reusability makes sense. We have existing materials that pose less of a risk to human health compared to plastics. Glass can be used again and again and even when it breaks, it can be melted down and remolded. Glass! One of the oldest human-manufactured products, let’s utilize it like we were for millennia.

Technology is great, don’t get me wrong. And some great products have come out as alternatives to plastic such as mycelium composite alternatives to certain packaging. But what happens if we technology our way into something worse than plastic? Something that has worse health effects than current plastics and their added chemicals.

They had their hay day and it’s time to move beyond them

Let’s move back to utilizing longer-lasting materials. Wood is regenerative, let’s start using in places where plastic has taken over like in the building of furniture. Stop making our clothes from synthetic materials, that flake off microplastics into the air and waterways.  Organic cotton, hemp, and wool grow back unlike plastic.

Once we start going for quality over quantity, we can start reducing our plastic production. We can get to a 60 per cent reduction in plastic. Two years ago, over 75 per cent of Americans wanted to see a reduction in single-use plastic, I suspect that number has grown with the attention plastics are getting in our media and with the advent of the Global Plastic Treaty.

It’s time to call on our leaders to support the phase-down of plastics, they had their hay day, and it’s time to move beyond them. Let’s shoot for a 60 per cent reduction of production by 2040. We can do it, we just need those in power to listen to the vast majority of people who support it!

Aidan Charron is director of end plastic initiatives at Earthday.org.

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