Centre of Expertise Mission Zero

Podcast Wasted Tales

In the Wasted Tales podcast series we will be bringing you into the lives and minds of waste and other materials within the circular economy, such as a solar panel, a face mask and a plastic bottle. This podcast is inspired by the projects of the Centre of Expertise Mission Zero where we conduct integrated research to come up with regenerative solutions for a more sustainable future.

By making inanimate objects key protagonists in this podcast, we aim to provide an alternative perspective to the circular economy discourse. What do these materials and objects experience? How do they view us humans in processes of recycling, repair and repurpose? And what can we learn from them?

The spoken language is English.

Interviewer: Kim Poldner, Professor Circular Business
Voice of our guests:  In every podcast a special guest will give voice to the object being interviewed.
Text writer: Natalie Cru
Design: Mari Genova
Production: Jurjen Helmus, founder of De Dataloog
Organization: Natalie Cru, Kim Poldner and Merel Hillen

Contact:  mission-zero@hhs.nl
Interested in finding out more about the making of Wasted Tales? Find out about how we bring waste and other materials to life in our stories here: The Making of Wasted Tales.


Episode 5 - Walter the Wastebin

Walter the wastebin is nearing retirement. With a long career working in a prison under his belt, he has seen it all. But is his waste management system too outdated to meet the modern demands of waste disposal? Walter reflects on his role in the system, and where waste bins could be headed.
Play this episode on Spotify.

Episode notes

This episode’s script is based on the project ‘Circular Operations Management’ led by Rachel Kuijlenburg in collaboration with the Custodial Institutions Agency and FM Haaglanden. Rachel is part of the research group circular business, and she is a lecturer and researcher in the area of integrated facility management and procurement management. Her research is focused on the relationship between business processes and sustainability, for example, the management of waste streams.
  1. We had the honour that THUAS’ vice-president Rajash Rawal agreed to give voice to Walter the Waste Bin in this episode. Rachel interviewed him about the vision of our board of directors on managing waste streams within the university. 
  2. General info about the project ‘Circular Operations Management’.
  3. Interview (in Dutch) with junior researcher Thomas Wissingh who works with students in collecting data for the project ‘Circular Operations Management’
  4. In IMPACT magazine Rachel is interviewed (in Dutch, p. 23) about why she sorts 660 kilos of waste with students in prison facilities
  5. A conference paper by Rachel Kuijlenburg, Kim Poldner and Mark Mobach discloses how automatic behaviours can be influenced to reduce waste at facility operations
  6. The focus of this academic article is on how external forces are able to hold municipalities accountable for sustainable procurement

Episode 4 - Tess the Tomato 

Tess the tomato shares her journey of traveling from greenhouse to kitchen and the harrowing love story that accompanied her. Through trial and tribulations Tess comes face to face with the stark reality of food waste in a tomato’s world.
Play this episode on Spotify.

Episode Notes 

This episode is based on a study done by Luciana Santerre, a student assistant at Mission Zero. Her research focuses on the effects of food waste on a consumer level including social and environmental implications and is part of a large project that Mission Zero is currently developing.  

Tess the tomato is inspired by the pioneering work of Kromkommer  and we built the storyline based on the following sources:
  1. An interview with Luci Santerre about her research project.
  2. THUAS students recently won the National Hackathon Circular Economy with their project Garden of Eternity – an innovative solution to feeding and greening the megacities of the future.
  3. This research report discusses the cosmetic aspects in the marketing standards for fruit and vegetables in the EU, and the implications of removing these standards for the market and the impact on food waste.
  4. This article discusses consumer behaviour in daily food provisioning, and its effect on food waste at the household level in the Netherlands
  5. This article discusses the impact that Covid-19 has had on Dutch consumers’ food waste behaviour.
  6. Information was also gathered from this synthesis report on food waste in Dutch households 2019.
  7. Kim Poldner has published an academic article on the sociomateriality of food in alternative food growing communities. 

Episode 3 – Penelope the Polyester Jacket

Penelope the polyester jacket discusses her transition from her past form as Polly the plastic bottle, to a fashionable and circular rPET jacket. How did she get here? And what does she think about her new life?
Play this episode on Spotify.

Episode Notes

This episode is based on the research of Professor Kim Poldner, who has been studying sustainable fashion for over fifteen years.

  1. To learn more about her work, you can watch this video (in Dutch).
  2. She recently published an article about the rebound effect within the Dutch Circular Textile Valley
  3. Kim was the founder of the Circular Fashion Lab at Wageningen University & Research where her colleagues did a study on textile recycling. This study can be downloaded here.
  4. To be able to develop the script for this episode we also consulted the website of Waste2wear and specifically this video 
    which explains the process of how textiles are made from recycled plastic bottles.
  5. Penelope is voiced by Marieke Eyskoot, who is a sustainable fashion and lifestyle activist. In our interview with Marieke you can read about her most recent initiative to stop shaming for consumption.


Episode 2: Stefano the Solar Panel

Stefano the solar panel finds himself in a Dutch village named America, as part of an experiment. As the star in this small town, can Stefano live up to the pressure of being the key to community acceptance of noise walls in the region? 
Play this episode on Spotify.

Episode notes

This episode is based on the project Newrail, a collaboration between Mission Zero, Prorail, TNO, the municipality of Horst aan de Maas and energy cooperative Reindonk Energie.

  1. More information on this project can be found here: Project NEWRAIL
  2. Arash Aazami, who has not only breathed life into Stefano the Solar Panel, but is a visionary when it comes to the future of energy shares his vision in a Q&A with Sander Mertens, professor and co-director of Mission Zero.  
  3. More in-depth information about the technical side of the NewRail project is provided by Gerben Hoogendorp, who is working on transient energy calculations. Read more about his work on the project here.
  4. Professor Kim Poldner published a study about community energy in The Netherlands, Germany and Spain: Nano Regeneration.

Episode 1: Fiona the Facemask

Fiona, one of millions of disposable facemasks born from the covid-19 pandemic, ends up in an unexpected place. She meets fantastic creatures whose wisdom leads her to dream of ideal future generations of disposable face masks. Can they be made in such a way that they have minimum negative impact on fragile eco-systems? 
Play this episode on Spotify

Episode notes

This episode is based on the graduation project of design student Mari Genova.

  1. Read an interview with Mari about her project.
  2. Mari was trained as a biomimicry designer during the minor Design with Nature developed and taught by Laura Stevens who is doing a PhD on biomimicry education. Laura has given voice to Fiona - here you can read more about her pioneering work:
    Biomimicry Education, A Conversation with Laura Stevens

    Minor Design with Nature

    Research group Urban metabolism
  3. Some extra sources were consulted to make the writing of this episode’s script possible:  Reusable Face Masks as Alternative for Disposable Medical Masks
    This journal article discusses factors that affect the wear-comfort of reusable face masks and compares different reusable face masks to disposable medical masks. This source was used to understand the mechanics behind disposable surgical face masks for the script. Advice is given at the end of this article on how to balance comfort and effectiveness of filtration.
  4. Salps Catch the Ocean’s Tiniest Organisms
    This source was used to find out more about the filtration mechanics of salps