I am writing from an artist's studio located in Berlin, Germany (Studio Olafur Eliasson) and am thrilled to have just stumbled across SIC. As an artist's studio that is deeply committed to reducing our carbon footprint and combating climate change, we are constantly seeking out sustainable solutions in the production and shipping of artworks. As the resident conservator in the studio, I am of course additionally concerned about the characteristics of the materials we are using and whether they are suitable for the delicate artworks we produce.
At the moment, we are looking to overhaul the synthetic packing materials we use in the Studio (PUR/PE foams, Tyvek, etc.) in exchange for natural/sustainable options and I would be very interested if anyone has any information on alternative packing materials and their viability in transporting/storing artworks, (i.e. resistance to microorganisms, out-gassing, acidifying, aging characteristics, etc.) or whether simply recycling the synthetic materials we already use is enough of a step in the right direction? I am looking into a PE foam recycling program with Sealed Air and was wondering if anyone has any experience with them. They recycle used non cross-linked, closed cell PE foam into new non cross-linked, closed cell PE foam, but I question whether transporting the foam in a truck across Germany plus the recycling process are actually “sustainable.” I've come across a few alternatives to our synthetic packing materials, but have not been able to find related research in the field of conservation and am unsure whether these products, such as paper filled "pillows" or natural felt/cork (which eventually release sulfur/acids) can withstand our specific demands in the shipment and storage of artworks. Any leads or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Because we also discard hundreds of disposable gloves (mostly latex) every month, I started looking into disposable glove recycling programs, such as the Kimberly Clark program. Unfortunately Kimtech gloves aren’t ideal for our needs, so I am interested in finding a latex recycling program in Europe if anyone knows of anything.
I’ll post updates on our discoveries in the Studio, as we are often testing alternative materials, and hoping this discourse can move us all towards sustainability in conservation, art production, shipping, storage, and beyond.