School of Engineering


Fashion made from “trash” was on display at the Waste to Art: the Neptune Project extravaganza.

Waste to Art: the Neptune Project to Help Tackle Pollution

UKZN hosted a unique fashion show on the Howard College campus as part of a cocktail evening themed: Waste to Art: the Neptune Project, in aid of tackling pollution, especially plastic that is infesting South Africa’s oceans.

Engineers are not usually associated with high fashion but such was the event and the cause that sassy young UKZN Engineering students joined their Durban University of Technology (DUT) fashion design colleagues to sashay down the catwalk! They were dressed in the most stylish and eco-friendly designs created out of recycled materials by final-year DUT fashion design students.

To the rustle and swish of recycled textiles, the enthusiastic young models demonstrated just how stylish “waste” can be.

Waste to Art: the Neptune Projectis the creative brainchild of Professor Cristina Trois, South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Waste and Climate Change at UKZN. The project has united artists, engineers and experts in waste management and in the creative arts to explore innovative and exciting ways to tackle waste and pollution, particularly the plastic pollution in the country’s oceans, through recycling and re-use. Through these efforts, the project team also hopes to sensitise the public to the impact of climate change on the environment.

Trois is passionate about the need for innovative waste management to mitigate against climate change and ensure a sustainable future for the planet. ‘The event provided the opportunity to showcase local design talent and creative ideas to turn waste into a means of income generation,’ said Trois, ‘as well as providing a networking platform for the many role players in waste and climate change, and local and foreign government sectors.

‘The Neptune Project aims to put the focus on plastic waste in our oceans, and help find innovative ways to mitigate against this scourge through recycling plastic into art,’ said Trois. ‘It conveys ideas for solutions emerging from high-quality scientific research conducted under the SARChI Chair.’

The project was run in conjunction with the international postgraduate training seminar and summer school on: Innovations in Waste to Resource Management and Climate Change Mitigation, held from 25-27 November at UKZN under the aegis of the UKZN SARChI Chair in Waste and Climate Change, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and the International Waste Working Group (IWWG).

The summer school explored new trends and innovations from around the world in research development and innovation on the management and valorisation of the three main priority waste streams – plastics, organics and textiles.

The course offered a unique opportunity to engage with key national and international experts in waste management and the circular/green economy, and was designed as an introduction to the new coursework Master of Science in Engineering in Waste and Resources Management (WaRM) available from 2020 at UKZN.

Words: Sally Frost

Photographs: Andile Ndlovu