under intense scrutiny

commissioned by Te Tuhi, Auckland


980mm x 21 metres

soft plastic packaging, cotton

From December 2018 to May 2019, soft plastic recycling halted in Aotearoa New Zealand. China stopped accepting refuse from New Zealand, and the alternative Melbourne-based recycling centre received more plastic than they could process.

Single-use packaging solutions, like soft plastics, have become ubiquitous in our lives. Originally introduced as a way of increasing consumption, disposable plastic has become emblematic of a system broken in the name of progress. With many industries slow to change their reliance on plastic packaging, the responsibility to reverse this culture of hyper-disposability has fallen to the consumer and the government.

To create under intense scrutiny, Rubado collected soft plastics used over a month by six families. The material was then hand-shredded and assembled through hand-weaving techniques to form a long plastic textile.

In re-presenting these ‘disposable’ plastics, Rubado invites scrutiny of manufacturers and their processes and highlights the importance of consumers connecting with and understanding the materials they purchase.

photos by Sam Hartnett