Gallery: Architects Envision Hawaii-Sized Island Made of Recycled Plast...

A group of architects from the Netherlands have a crazy idea to take all the plastic floating out there in the Pacific Ocean, and recycle it into a floating island the size of Hawaii. Climate refugees would be able to move there and live in recycled and
A group of architects from the Netherlands have a crazy idea to take all the plastic floating out there in the Pacific Ocean, and recycle it into a floating island the size of Hawaii. Climate refugees would be able to move there and live in recycled plastic homes, and work on farms or grow seaweed. The entire island would be totally self-sufficient once built, producing its own food and energy, and managing waste. While totally off the wall, this is an intriguing concept that gets our imaginations in motion about what we can do with that ginormous mass of plastic floating around in the ocean!

There are millions of pounds of plastic swirling out in the ocean and the best way to take care of it would be to collect it all and recycle it. Whim Architecture, from the Netherlands, is proposing to do just that with their Recycled Island – collect the plastic, sort it and then recycle it into building blocks to create a whole new floating island as big as Hawaii (approximately 10,000 sq km) depending on how much plastic could be collected. As the climate changes, many people, especially island nations like the Maldives, will be forced from their homes, becoming refugees. The new island, located somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii would be made available to those refugees.

The island would be totally self-sufficient, capable of producing its own food, managing waste and producing renewable energy. One section of the island would be for urban housing, built from recycled plastic, and would also include all the necessary amenities for recreation, commerce, and living. Beaches would be located near the houses for people to relax, enjoy and recreate.

The rest of the island would be available to grow food, and seaweed would be grown right offshore. Seaweed could be used for food, biofuel, fertilizer, medicine, and CO2 absorption. Human waste and other organic matter would be composted and used as fertilizer for crops. Renewable energy would be harvested from solar, wave and wind power.

Recycled Island is still completely in conceptual stages, and the designers are currently seeking assistance and other knowledgeable experts in the fields of chemistry, oceanographers and engineers. The concept is a bit out there, but some day it may have its place. What do you think, should we turn the world’s floating plastic into self-sufficient islands?

+ Recycled Island



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  1. joulesofthesea March 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    The concept is an idealistic/optimistic perhaps even a /naive one. However we have a multiple battlefront war here not just a one front war. As far as the part of the battlefront you are addressing in this island plan you would just be putting a bandage on the wound and making it less visible is all. By making the problem less visible without addressing ALL of the other problems you may speed up the death of the ocean and not save it at all.

    Putting makeup over skin cancer will not cure it. All you will accomplish is to make it less visible until it eventually metastasizes and likely kills you. The trash in the ocean is a cancer that is starting to metastasize. We need to address the cancer, attack it aggressively but intelligently, and remove it all. But we also have to do everything we can to stop it from occurring or reoccurring again. Get involved now by visiting and supporting organizations like and get out of the plastic habit.
    ~~Joules of the Sea~~

    PS. Hoping to make a trash run in 2013 to test a design similar to the trash manta net but need to find some funding first. Fingers crossed! :)

  2. feline74 June 29, 2011 at 6:46 am

    As luck and/or irony would have it, a lot of this stuff tends to accumulate near Hawaii! If the means of harvesting and recycling it exists, using it to fuel a Hawaiian plastics industry would probably make the less tourist-friendly islanders quite happy.

  3. Snowmeow August 20, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    In the world of today, any idea is a valuable idea. Only thing needed is money to sponsor these initiatives.

    it is still a concept, and many things can change as people begin to take out their butts from their comfortable couches and begin doing something useful.

  4. nadine sellers July 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

    one word, tsunami..float and sink..assuming that the construction would be handled the same way the netherland were built and continue to is remotely possible to form a nucleus basic structure and add on as commercial sins surface…a rest from excess..on a temporary solution.
    as long as new inhabitants realize that they are a migrating specie on a consumer penitential hiatus.

  5. louisjohn9 July 10, 2010 at 5:32 am

    here are billions of pounds of plastic moving out in the ocean and the someone way to use charge of it would be to accumulate it all and reprocess it. Thought Structure, from the Netherlands, is proposing to do fitting that with their Recycled Island – due the impressible, form it and then utilize it into construction blocks to create a whole new floating island as big as Hawaii (some 10,000 sq km) depending on how more plastic could be collected. As the status changes, numerous grouping, especially island nations similar the State, faculty be affected from their homes, decent refugees. The new island, situated somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii would be made open to those refugees.

  6. Been To Gyre May 8, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Do you know how frustrating it is to sail across an ocean studying plastic debris with a team of scientists and photographers and then come back and offer all those media assets for free to blogs like Inhabitat, hoping that finally, finally, the media will quit perpetuating the myth that you can A.) collect this stuff in some meaningful way B.) That’s it’s an island the size o texas C.) That anyone would want to live on island made of something that attracts pollutants like a sponge? Do you understand that post like this give people false hope? Do you understand that plastic pollution in the ocean is like 100 gulf spills over and over again? Do you understand that posts like this help the ACC keep making the crap that is literally killing the ocean?

  7. luckybastard May 3, 2010 at 5:06 am

    hey guys the project is great, but you can show off better with just a little help, i make 3d rendering and animations, here’s my email for estimates,

  8. blim micky May 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    ok, here is my idea!
    take all the worstest things in the world and use them to do all the latest cool-sounding best things!

    this will work, because as you know, the two extremes of a spectrum actually connect to each other to form a circle. see: magenta, and the notion “so bad it’s good”

    forget those processes branded “best” by the eco-regime have hardly been implemented in isolation on pre-existing land, let alone in stunning integrated concert on land made from the excess of the spoiled industrialized spoils of our chapped baby butts.

    using technology sourced from the movie Water World, we are now capable of placing the defecations of total strangers into a holy holey blackbox. Turn your back for a mere mirror 48 hours and you’ll be surprised to find the box has produced its own food, elegantly handled the sticky logistics of waste management, and now is successfully harnessing energy from anything exhibiting kinetic motion within 10 square kilometers. The box, being principally made of fertilizer, can serve as fertilizer! That means you can grow food, eat food, poop poop, feed the box poop, and get more food to eat and poop and eat!

    What if something grows that doesn’t look edible? Well, it’s still /something/ isn’t it? We’ve found that anything that’s something is surprisingly multipurpose, capable of being transformed (or “digivolving”) into food, biofuel, fertilizer, medicine, and CO2 absorption.

    ’cause, y’know, it’s CO2’s fault we began thinking like this in the first place.

    there’s a fat line between things you think up in the bathroom (the toilet/twilight zone) and comprehensive design. this proposal may have some kernel of cool idea in it, but they really sunk the ship by rolling their concept like a katamari ball through the fields of blogospheric buzzwords.

    all of this critique equally applies to me.

  9. davidwayneosedach April 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    What a constructive idea! Use the trash to make something beautiful and useful.

  10. kristiantheconqueror April 14, 2010 at 12:56 am

    I’m not sure which is funnier – the entire implausibility of this idea (collecting all the plastic garbage in the pacific will be horrifically wasteful of energy,) the incredible lack of research or the hilariously amateurish photoshop job in the “renderings”.

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