Jun 15, 2015 | By Simon

Considering that plastic is literally at our fingertips all day long - whether it’s in the form of our keyboards and mouse, a plastic water bottle, an adjustment handle on our office chairs or even as packaging for our lunches - it’s no surprise that the amount of plastic in our oceans is at an all-time high.  

In the last ten years alone, we have produced more plastic than during the entire last century and over fifty percent of the plastic we use is used once before being thrown away.  Combined, this is enough plastic trash to circle the earth at least four times a year.   In our plastic-obsessed society, developing ways of disposing our plastic and plastic-based waste materials has become a modern dilemma that millions of dollars and dozens of our world’s brightest thinkers have been developing solutions for.  Although we have figured out some solutions that have been implemented at all stages of a product lifecycle, there is still a large amount that ends up in our landfills and oceans.

Among others who are drawing awareness to this environmental issue include Dutch artist Peter Smith, who is planning to turn 100,000 littered plastic bottles into a giant sculpture of Madonna and child to help draw attention to this pressing issue.

The artist, who is also the founder of the KLEAN Foundation, began his process of creating the Plastic Madonna statue by asking Dutch model Doutzen Kroes to pose as Madonna herself.  His hope is that the final sculpture, which will be 3D printed, will be placed on the beach in Rio de Janeiro during the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games.


A prototype of the statue

This isn’t the first time that Smith has drawn awareness to the problem with artwork made from discarded plastic bottles, either.  Previously, he created a gigantic globe from hundreds of littered plastic bottles that he titled ‘The World of Litter’, which was displayed in Amsterdam’s River IJ and Rotterdam’s River Meuse.

To create the gigantic Madonna and Child statue, Smith will be using PET plastic that is made from discarded PET plastic bottles.   

“We already know that human beings can do amazing things. One of the best, most fun and probably revolutionary recent inventions is that of the 3D printer,” says Smith.  

“As well as turning the world of production upside down, it is also a great way of getting rid of “second-hand” plastic. At the moment, this technique uses new plastic, known as virgin material. We want to encourage the developers of 3D printers to start using second-hand plastic mainly.”

To gather all of the bottles necessary to create the filament, volunteers from all over the world will contribute towards picking up litter during scheduled beach clean-ups.  While picking up a single bottle might seem insignificant for some, Smith argues that when a problem is this big, “the best to do is smart with the smallest thing you can do.”  

With over 80% of the plastic bottles in our ocean coming from litter that has been washed into drains and rivers, let’s hope that not only does the statue bring awareness to litter itself - but also the use of creating 3D printing filament from discarded plastic waste, too.

While Smith understands that not everybody will be able to contribute to the project in the form of a piece of picked up litter, he is also seeking funding for the project and invites donors to contribute just a single dollar or euro to help support the cause.

“Whether your name is Bill Gates, Richard Branson or Joe Bloggs, it´s the same with the huge problem of Plastic Soup, everyone can contribute equally to solving the problem.”

To contribute a dollar, euro or other form of currency towards solving this worldwide problem, you can do so over at the Plastic Madonna website.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications

Maybe you also like:


Juan wrote at 6/15/2015 9:02:18 AM:

Creating "awareness" is the new way of doing nothing and still be morally content with the status quo. A buried statue is just an empty bottle more to add to the throngs of PET swimming in the worlds oceans. The awareness created is as durable as the attention span of our age, the time you need to click a button, nothing more, nothing less. Click.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive