Off the Wall Nov-Dec 2013

A round-up of some of the weird and wonderful news in the waste and recycling industry

Garments for the grave

It turns out that dressing to impress doesn’t stop when you kick the bucket. And if you’ve worked hard to dress ethically during your life, you really ought to ensure you’re wearing something that biodegrades along with your body when buried. 

Fashion designer Pia Interlandi creates garments made from hemp, silk and cotton that do just that. Her research involved burying 21 dead pigs wearing her garments to understand the rate and nature of the materials’ decomposition in contact with a body. 

“The body is a gift”, according to Interlandi. “It’s a big bag of nutrients and water and protein. When you place it back into the earth, I think the garment is almost like wrapping paper.”

Image copyright of Devika Bilimoria

Green Grass
Ever wondered about the equipment seized from drug raids? It seems there’s quite a lot of illicit booty that can be reused. 

For example, Dudley care home residents at Tiled House Intermediate Care and Rehabilitation Home are now enjoying a garden retreat after plant pots and bags of compost were donated to them by the Cannabis Disposal arm of the West Midlands Police earlier this year.

Mike Hall, who manages the Cannabis Disposal Team, explained: “Whenever we come across equipment that could benefit the local community, we always try and offer it to them. In the past, we have given heat lamps to local zoos where the lamps can be used in their reptile sections.

“In this case, the compost is still sealed and hasn’t been used so can be really beneficial to creating a community garden.”

Cannabis contraband – turns out it’s alright to give it to your gran.

This article was taken from Issue 74

Under the Warehouse
Love camper vans but hate camping in the rain? How about sleeping in a restored trailer resting in the comfort of a warehouse instead? 

Base Camp, a new hotel in Bonn, Germany ( offers campers the opportunity to have a rain-free holiday in one of its 120 beds located within 15 camping caravans, two night sleepers, and two Airstreams. They’ve all been designed by film and TV outfitter Marion Seul for hotelier Michael Schloesser. Prices range from £20 up to £65 for a night’s stay.

Treating waste with waste

Scientists have made an amazing discovery – that some wastes can be used to treat, well, other wastes. 

The thousands of tonnes of seashells the seafood sector gets through, for instance, are being put to use by the University of Bath. Dr Darrell Patterson, from the Department of Chemical Engineering, used waste mussel shells to create a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly way of ‘polishing’ wastewater, removing unwanted substances like hormones, pharmaceuticals or fertilisers.

Patterson said: “Our study has shown that the hydroxyapatite formed from [mussel shells] is an effective, green and potentially cost-efficient alternative photocatalyst for wastewater treatment.” 

Elsewhere, Taiwanese scientists have discovered that waste CDs can also be used as a new method of sewage treatment. On the surface of optical discs, the National Taiwan University team grew tiny, upright zinc oxide nanorods, which act as photocatalysts for breaking apart organic molecules when exposed to UV.

We’re not fans of making things more complicated, but perhaps we need to set up separate collections for seashells and CDs…