100%, a new exhibition at the Shanghai Museum of Glass, invites its audience to consider the innate circularity of this ubiquitous and much-loved building material.
12 August, 2022
Glass is the only material that can be completely recycled with zero loss of quality. New products made from waste glass, which is known as ‘cullet’, save energy at every step of the supply chain. They eliminate the need for mining, reduce transport requirements, and greatly decrease the energy consumed (and carbon emitted) during the manufacturing process.
Despite all of this, as it stands, only 25% of the glass produced globally is recycled. Most of it ends up as landfill. The problem here is that one of the most prized characteristics of this ubiquitous material – its longevity – is actually also one of its drawbacks. Because it is so durable, when it is disposed of at landfill (and therefore protected from the elements), it can take up to a million years to decompose.
100%, a new exhibition at the Shanghai Museum of Glass addresses this state of affairs. It outlines the science behind glass recycling; shines a light on ways that artists and designers can elevate waste glass from trash to treasure; and invites museum-goers to consider the possibilities of the material as part of a circular economy in which more of what we use is re-used.
In a gesture aimed at highlighting both the environment we share and the public health benefits of spending time outdoors, the exhibition is located in the museum’s gardens. A series of five shipping containers, all designed to resemble the inside of a glass making kiln, are dotted around the property. Each contains digital elements and installations, mostly made from pre-existing materials, that address the topic at hand.
Naturally enough, the entire exhibition is zero waste. The bricks used inside the containers, which are a special edition of the award-winning product YiBrick by YiDesign, are made of glass waste and recycled ceramics from Shanghai Museum of Glass and Jingdezhen. When the exhibition comes to an end, they will be repurposed and used as construction material inside the museum. None stand a chance of re-surfacing, a million years into the future, from some ancient and long-abandoned land fill site.
100% is currently showing at the Shanghai Museum of Glass Park, 685 West Changjiang Road, Baoshan District, Shanghai. The exhibition runs from July 2022 until June 2024.
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