Japanese Knotweed Project
Reynoutria japonica is considered the worst weed in Europe and has caused serious damage to the natural and built environment. In the UK it is classed as an invasive species due to its ability to spread easily creating a hostile environment. It is considered a controlled waste, so after its removal, it must be taken to a licensed landfill for its disposal. The plant is widely spread in the UK and it is estimated to cost the economy £166 million per year.
This project aims to reduce the negative impact of this species by using design as a tool to turn something negative into positive. The Japanese Knotweed project reverses the concept of wastage by treating the plant as a valuable source of raw material. Through an investigative process of its parts and reuse of its disposal, the plant proved to be a precious local source of raw material for a range of industries.
By adding value to this abundant source of raw material located in 45 countries, connected and circular production systems can emerge, reframing attitudes surrounding this species as well as promoting more resilient and self-sufficient production models and cities.
Each part of the plant (peduncle, stem, leaf, rhizome) was explored individually and different processes of making were used to find out what kind of materials could be extracted from the plant. After its deconstruction, all residues and leftovers were repurposed into another making process creating a circular and zero-waste production system. In this way, through an investigative process of its parts and reuse of its disposal, the plant proved to be a precious local source of raw material for a range of industries such as, textile, fashion, product, built environment, paper mill, food and homeopathic medicine. Within a zero-waste design system of making materials, what is considered waste for an industry can be an ingredient for another.
Text submitted by the maker
Having the plant as the main raw material, only natural-based ingredients were added to some recipes such as agar, glycerine, ash, chalk, gum arabic and carrageenan.
Royal College of Art, Orla Kiely scholarship, Environet UK, Notweed Paper