Towards a sustainable circular economy: how the case of plastic can inform how we design, produce, and consume products

The Sustainability Lab at IFI owns a so-called Precious Plastic machine, which includes a shredder, an injector, and an extruder. The machine is used to recycle plastic materials, such as left-overs from IFI’s 3D-printers, and to form them into new plastic artefacts. The machine can be seen in the Sonen @ IFI and during the upcoming “plastic day” on 30th September at the library at IFI.

Multi function plastic machine from "Precious Plastic Canaries"

Photo: Precious Plastic Canaries.

Today the production and usage of plastic are exploding, and the UN estimates the quantity of plastic in the oceans to be between 75 and 199 million tons (WWF). In Norway, each citizen does throw in the trash around 101 kg of plastic per year (Dagsavisen, 2020). In the city of Oslo, microplastic pollution on the roads is alarmingly high (NIVA), and has been found in the lungs of citizens in Europa (Baeza-Martínez, 2022). Reducing the use of plastic, awareness of collateral damages, and simultaneously creating a sustainable transition to a less plastic-based society seem difficult to achieve. Systemic changes seem to be necessary.

This thesis project will investigate how local and contextual initiatives, such as workshops and seminars, using the Precious Plastic machine, can enable conversations promoting system-oriented thinking and initiate changes in the way we design, produce and consume products. The proposed master’s thesis aligns with other Sustainability Lab activities, such as our repair research, the energy visualization project, the byttebod in front of the IFI library, and the design of a digital materials library for the new Life Science building.

For this master project, we are looking for a team of two master students.

Possible perspectives to be addressed in this thesis project are:

How can a systems-oriented design approach support UiO’s circular economy?

How to support system thinking in UiO’s sustainability activities?

How can public and practical engagement with plastic recycling enable more sustainable consumption of products in general and plastic in particular at the UiO?


We regard the social aspect of doing a master thesis as important as the academic aspect. As supervisors, we will offer you an engaged and inspiring environment in the Sustainability Lab as well as access to experts when needed, such as people knowledgeable about plastic production, the precious plastic machine, material libraries, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Recommended courses:

Inspiring literature:

The upcoming center for plastic and marine litter and designed by Snøhetta (

Carlos Baeza-Martínez, et al. First evidence of microplastics isolated in European citizens’ lower airway, Journal of Hazardous Materials, 438, 2022



Dagsavisen (2020):


Emneord: plastic, sustainability, design, data science, bærekraft, bærekraftsmålene
Publisert 10. sep. 2022 10:31 - Sist endret 22. sep. 2022 14:36

Omfang (studiepoeng)