Filthy snack

Materials World magazine
1 Oct 2017

Ice lollies from waste are not the latest craze among ice cream makers, but a cruel reminder of the increasing amounts of waste in global waters.

Before the ice cream season starts in summer, companies come up with new kinds of flavours, combinations of these and variations that cater to all dietary requirements. But you might want to look twice before you try these treats, as they feature ingredients such as dead fish, cigarette butts, dirt and a lot of plastic waste. In fact, each is made of around 90% plastic residue. 

Behind the rather gross combinations is a trio of Taiwanese design students who, for their dissertation, chose to collect water from rivers, ports and landfills and turn it into a reminder of one of the biggest failures of humankind – the inability to recycle waste, which instead ends up in rivers and oceans. In 2050, several different researchers estimate, the fish/plastic waste ratio might decrease in favour of the latter, leaving more waste than fish in the ocean. This is if we continue to dump eight million tonnes of plastic waste into the oceans annually, and if the current recycling rate of 10% is not increased. 

And so, not only is the filling made of waste, the frozen water of the different varities gets its colours mostly from industrial dye, the students say. 

They were fascinated with the black water of a canal close to the Taiwan University of Arts, which the students attended, and, as a result, started their waste collection from there.

The idea created a stir among the design world and has since featured in different exhibitions. To make their products last for these events, the students have used polyester resin to recreate the original lollies.

Additionally, the students have created individual packaging for each lolly, listing information about where they sourced the water and what ingredients they found within, which probably don’t appeal to anyone’s diet.