Plastic gets the top spot in Extreme E trophies

Plastic might not seem like the most obvious material of choice for a top prize, but Extreme E has a knack for getting important messages across in everything it does.

The letter X is a core part of the imagery Extreme E uses to convey the message of its work across the world. There is no better representation of this work than the trophies awarded to the racers themselves upon completion of each race, but did you know they have recycled plastic woven into their very structure?

A prize worth giving

Mariano Piñeyrua is the person to thank for the innovative design of Extreme E’s distinctive winners’ trophies bestowed to the top teams competing in each leg of the inaugural season. He is the runner of a circular start-up based in his home country of Uruguay called Cruz Creative Lab. This business takes the concept of circularity of resources and finds intriguing new ways to incorporate old materials into new shapes, designs and forms entirely.

With this design, we are defying status quo of what trophies should look like – in this case, trash becomes a desired object and that is the purpose of our company: design for a better world.

Mariano has been watching Extreme E’s work for some time. He admits: “When they launched the trophy design competition, I was immediately attracted to apply as Extreme E’s purpose as a sustainable company is aligned with what we do, and being a motorsport fan since I was a child, it was a super combo. I have never designed trophies so it was a nice challenge.”

The design itself is simple – a hefty X shape sits atop a small base, half-encased in a vertical cuboid supporting block, with each leg of the first season dictating the colours and character of the respective trophies. For the Ocean X Prix, part of the trophy was adorned with a white and blueish moulded surface, resembling crashing ocean waves and foam. An entire half of the X in the centre of the trophy is made from a distinctive rainbow-like patch of plastic material; herein lies the recycled material.

“The trophies are made with recycled plastic collected from the ocean by the St Helena, the Extreme E ship”, Mariano reveals. As a result, Extreme E keeps a circular loop going while also keeping the oceans clean, as it makes each of its trophies.

Life in 3D

The recycled plastic harvested by the St Helena is scooped up and melted down to create a reusable supply of plastic which can be 3D-printed to form the basis of these new trophies. The patch of recycled plastic visible on each trophy has a distinctive rainbow pattern, with greens, translucent plastic-y colours and others all falling in parallel lines – the 3D printer produces the material a slice at a time, creating a visual masterpiece out of what was once considered rubbish.

“We designed the shape of the trophies so that a 3D company can manufacture them,” says Mariano. “In this case, the Dutch company 3devo partnered with Extreme E to print the trophies onboard of St Helena.”

Mariano is proud of the ability of his company to come together with 3devo and Extreme E to produce the trophies in-situ aboard the St Helena, giving the inaugural season of Extreme E a feeling of keeping its resource chain as tight as possible. Rather than going to a third party to go on and manufacture the trophy, the St Helena becomes a 3D printing machine as well as a repository for the cars and other important equipment which must be conveyed from racing venue to racing venue.

“We jumped in this project because of the circularity of materials involved in the fabrication,” according to Mariano. “With this design, we are defying status quo of what trophies should look like – in this case, trash becomes a desired object and that is the purpose of our company: design for a better world.”

Mariano admits that the experience has been a surreal one, seeing some of the most esteemed motorsports racers head out to the most extreme environments to not only help raise awareness of climate change. They have also competed in dramatic races, with the winners being awarded the very trophies he helped create all those months ago. “Never underestimate the power of an idea”, Mariano tells us.

As far as Extreme E’s trophies are concerned, X marks the spot on a whole new way of designing trophies. Plastic can be more than just a nuisance, but can be transformed into a masterpiece in its own right.

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