Task B: Full Report on Innovative Project
Issue at Hand
Getting employees in Kash Money Logistics offices to subscribe to the idea of using only recyclable materials and to reduce the consumption of single use plastics both at home and in the office.
Initial Research from Observation, Desk and Field Research
The use of single-use plastics is increasing in popularity across the world. These plastics are toxic to the natural ecosystems that they damage, and they are a disagreeable sight to see. The use of these plastics, on the other hand, has a significant impact on global warming (Haward, 2018). Consumer demand for action on plastic pollution has reached previously unheard-of levels as a result of the disastrous impact of plastic waste on our seas and natural environments. Every day, fresh pledges to minimize plastic waste and enhance product design in order to address “end of life” issues are made by businesses in response to public outcry. Despite the efforts of companies to reduce trash and promote recycling (Jia, Evans, and Van der Linden, 2019), the contents of rubbish bins frequently reveal a different story. It is become an addiction for individuals from all walks of life to engage in plastic pollution, despite the fact that it is a terrible threat to the health of our world. Not only does it suffocate the marine life, but it also has a detrimental effect on human health. In light of this, single-use plastics should be a primary priority in both the workplace and the home.
There is no rubbish that does not degrade in the natural world. People are the ones who invented ‘unnatural’ materials such as plastic, and they are also the ones who use them. Plastic has a wide range of applications in addition to being a low-cost material to manufacture. Plastic contamination almost always occurs as a consequence of plastic trash, which is a result of the extensive usage of plastic. It is not simply because someone discards a piece of plastic on the street rather than in a trash can that this is happening. About 43% of the plastics consumed is discarded after only a single use, as per the findings of (Borrelle et al., 2020). Bags, bottles, trays, and food packaging are examples of items that we use on a regular basis. It’s readily available at supermarkets and other retail outlets. Certain individuals are prone to discarding their package as litter, which is a typical occurrence. Residents in some places are unable to do so due to a shortage of rubbish collection services. Although the great majority of individuals make their best efforts to avoid using single-use plastic, it remains a significant contributor to plastic pollution despite these efforts.
Initial Problem Description
One of the most pressing challenges of our day is plastic trash. There is a pressing need for change, but it must be implemented quickly, since it can no longer be ignored. With more than 300 million tons of plastic being created worldwide each year, a large portion of it is devoted to single-use items (Xu & Ren, 2021). Recycling only accounts for around 9% of all plastic ever produced (van Giezen & Wiegmans, 2020). Water bottles and food containers are among the many objects that find their way into the ocean. To put it another way, the World Economic Forum estimates that by the year 2050, marine plastic will outweigh fish (d’Ambrières, 2019). There is a lot of carbon in plastics, too. Greenhouse gases are released during the creation, usage, and disposal of plastic. Single-use plastics must be eliminated from our lives, our workplaces, and society as a whole as soon as possible, and consumers want businesses to innovate and adapt in order to do so.
From a personal experience, I noted that employees spend a lot of time in the office, within their different work spaces or stations. In the time spent there, a lot of plastic waste is produced. Of particular interest to me is the single use plastics that are labeled by Das et al. (2021) as one of the worst sources of pollution in the world at present. Some of the common single use plastic items leading to damage in the communities and the environment found in the workplace include: straws, plastic shopping bags, plastic bread bags and tags, plastic cutlery, masks, plastic bottles (water holders, soda cans, and so on), plastic food packaging materials, and Styrofoam containers. Studies and pollution campaigns focus on homes and production centers as the main sources of plastic waste leaving the workplace neglected. I have found my own organization at Kash Money Logistics to accumulate a lot of single use plastics.
Definition of Solution and Features
It is predicted that by 2050, the number of plastics in the ocean will far outnumber the fish unless significant efforts are made to avoid plastic pollution from the point of manufacturing to point of consumption (Clayton et al., 2021). Currently, there are rubbish islands covering significant portions of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, and more are on their way. This is only one of the many reasons why it is important to limit the human reliance on single-use plastics and instead choose environmentally beneficial alternatives whenever possible, as described in the previous section. Single-use plastics use a large amount of fossil fuels, damaging the environment and contributing to global warming. As a result of their widespread usage, plastics continue to wreak havoc on the environment and pose a major threat to ecosystems, marine life, and human lives.
The obvious solution will be to have a plastic-free campaign in the workplace and introduce a culture that is focused on recycling and use of materials that can be reused. However, I found this to be impractical. Therefore, we propose the use of a dedicated single-use plastic monitor app (iRecycler), specially designed for the organization and its affiliates. The way this will work is that the iRecycler app will help reduce individual plastic consumption and give open-display results for members of the organization to see. The app will then provide calculations and estimates for the entire organization compared to global figures. It will also provide sustainable alternatives that factor in cost and effectiveness given each users individual usage statistics. The idea is to create a culture of recycling and consciousness around the issue of reducing every user’s personal plastic footprint.
Reflection of the Process
One of the recurrent themes in the entire process was the fact that the natural environment tis choking from all the single-use plastics that have become commonplace at home and especially in the workplace where a majority of people spend most of their time. While conducting the research on this topic, I was honestly astonished by how much damage humans are causing to the natural environment, through what I can confidently call carelessness and a lack of concern. Single-use plastic goods may be convenient, but the damage they do to the environment and human health during their manufacture, distribution, and disposal makes them a serious threat to both human and environmental health. It is past time to discontinue the use of single-use plastics for a variety of reasons, including littering, consuming polluted seafood, and the creation of hazardous microplastics. The problem is so severe that it is mentioned in the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. It is unfortunate that the whole world needs to be reminded of the future of other generations to come. At the current rate, it is likely that future generations will have severe health issues caused by the present actions in the manufacturing and consumption of single-use plastics. It is also likely that the natural environment will see changes that will lead to even greater consequences compared to the present climate change issues. all these issues opened my eyes to the real problem and the need to address it with haste.
I was able to take a simple every-day problem and convert it to an opportunity to make a difference through innovative designs. The mobile app aforementioned will help many people and organizations to realize a vision that many hold dear yet have not been able to achieve. In the entire process, my experience has shown me that if we put in the effort and inventiveness, everything may be converted into something beautiful. I came to the realization that every design has both strengths and weaknesses, and that engaging with experts may help us uncover these issues. The entire process, from identifying the problem to developing a solution, was exceedingly challenging. In the setting of a worldwide crisis, my assumptions about what would and would not work were challenged. I could also look at how a design’s performance was affected by changes made to it in the real world. For example, others who have had the same idea as mine before have not really focused on one organization or a sector. As such, their designs have not had the same effectiveness as they had hoped.
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Clayton, C. A., Walker, T. R., Bezerra, J. C., & Adam, I. (2021). Policy responses to reduce single-use plastic marine pollution in the Caribbean. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 162, 111833.
d’Ambrières, W. (2019). Plastics recycling worldwide: current overview and desirable changes. Field Actions Science Reports. The journal of field actions, (Special Issue 19), 12-21.
Das, K. P., Sharma, D., Saha, S., & Satapathy, B. K. (2021). From outbreak of COVID-19 to launching of vaccination drive: invigorating single-use plastics, mitigation strategies, and way forward. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 28(40), 55811-55845.
Haward, M. (2018). Plastic pollution of the world’s seas and oceans as a contemporary challenge in ocean governance. Nature communications, 9(1), 1-3.
Jia, L., Evans, S., & van der Linden, S. (2019). Motivating actions to mitigate plastic pollution. Nature communications, 10(1), 1-3.
van Giezen, A., & Wiegmans, B. (2020). Spoilt-Ocean Cleanup: Alternative logistics chains to accommodate plastic waste recycling: An economic evaluation. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 5, 100115.
Xu, E. G., & Ren, Z. J. (2021). Preventing masks from becoming the next plastic problem. Frontiers of environmental science & engineering, 15(6), 125.