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PlasticQoo

PlasticQoo

by plasticqoo | updated December 13, 2019

According to the United Nations Environment, more than 8.3 billion plastic tons have been created since the 1950s and 60% of it has ended up in landfills or the environment and by 2050, plastic will overweight fish in the oceans. Coastal countries have a significant contribution to this issue with an approximated of 8.8 million metric tons of plastic waste annually (Science, 2015). 80% of the tourism industry is located in coastal areas. The coastal State of Quintana Roo (Qroo), Mexico is one of the top tourist destinations with 16 million tourists per year, and annually generates 60 000 tons of plastic litter. In early 2019, Qroo approved the Law for Prevention, Management and Circular Economy of the Waste (PMCEW), banning single-use plastic, but despite these commitments, the law exempts the single-use plastic for food packaging, allowing companies to continue with the business as usual operations. Moreover, the local government has deficient regulations in plastic waste management, compromising the State ecosystem and its sustainable development. PlastiQoo mission is to analyze the pressing challenges in the State with several recommendations to take into account in the new legal framework for strengthening institutional capacities and fostering partnerships, shared responsibilities, and increasing public awareness and social pressure for the plastic waste management of the region.

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We identified the cosmetic sector as one of the main contributor of packaging and the fourth largest user of plastic packaging (Packaging sector is the main producer of plastic). Moreover, it is suggested that packaging in the cosmetic sector is growing. Therefore, we considered different solutions.

November 22, 2019 at 9:11 AM
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Exploring for materials suitable for alternative packaging, it is important material is used that otherwise would not be used. For example: seaweed in Mexico

In Mexico they face almost every year a seaweed crisis, which not only harm the environment but also the local tourism industry. Therefore, we explore the idea of sargassum seaweed plastic as a substitute for traditional plastic. By doing so, we can "kill two birds with one stone": plastic waste & seaweed crisis. 

We  focus on the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico where the seaweed crisis was extremely destructive. Moreover, Mexico is one of the biggest plastic consumers in America.

 

 

 

November 22, 2019 at 9:35 AM
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As the seaweed is a local resource, it is not possible to make produce plastic for a worldwide industry such as cosmetics industry.

Using seaweed for bio-based plastic means to produce locally in order to keep it sustainable. Tourism it the main industry in Quintana Roo. They use plastic cups, cutleries etc. at least at the beach where glass is forbidden. Therefore, the idea is to produce plastic idems for the hospitality sector. 

This enables us to solve two problems at the same time: using the damaging seaweed and reduce plastic waste. 

Our Idea of change: If we implement this project in one hotel it will set a trend among the hotels & resorts in the Riviera Maya, helping them to keep up with the demand for more sustainable practices. In other regions of the world they will copy similar solutions to keep up as well.

November 28, 2019 at 8:05 AM
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In 2019, the State of Quintana Roo adopted a new law banning on single-use plastics. However, they have a lot of exceptions,  e.g. food packaging or the transport sector.

New Idea to create the plastic alternative for a sector that is excluded: packaging sector: Business to business transports e.g. transportation of food such as vegetables which are covered in thin plastics

Challenges: The food is mostly imported and not wrapped locally. That means the packaging (seaweed plastic produced locally) would have to been transported first. This transportation is not sustainable and increases the complexity of logistics.  

November 28, 2019 at 8:25 AM
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As there is a ban forbidding single-use plastic, however, it is not addressing the main challenge, its management. The exception, which allows the business as usual plastic waste generation. Therefore, it is important to make the law more efficiently leading to better waste management, which does not contaminate the environment. 

The weak legal framework is not the only problem, there is also a lack of shared responsibilities between the private sector, government, and locals. All of them contribute to the problem. Moreover, consumers have to become more aware of the situation and the possible actions that they can take. 

However, there is another factor that is hard to tackle: corruption. Even though the new legal framework is efficient, corruption might cause that infringements are not punished and therefore actors do not play by the rules. 

November 28, 2019 at 8:43 AM
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Love this moment - it seems to have been a critical turning point for the team. Well done.. it's a good insight to deeply understand the need for collaboration between private and public sectors when it comes to implementation
2 months ago

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In order to tackle the underlying problems, we suggest a three-pillar solution: 

1: Policy recommendations that would enable to reduce plastic consumption and better waste management.

2: Identifying business opportunities and potential partnerships in order to meet the demand for alternatives for single-use plastics and to improve waste management.

3. Upcycling workshop of plastic waste in hotel resorts, in order to make locals & tourists more aware of the problem

By improving the plastic waste management in Quintana Roo, other states in Mexico, but also different regions and countries with high levels of tourism can replicate the best practices in how to address this problem.

This will prove that even under difficult circumstances such as corruption and lack of institutional capacities for executing the law, reducing the impacts of plastic waste is feasible. Moreover, plastic pollution is getting more attention and if popular destinations want to keep up with the tourist expectations, they need to take action soon.

November 28, 2019 at 8:56 AM
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First possible solution is to create a packaging, made out of different materials in order to reduce the amount of plastc needed in the production

For example: paper, leave, coffee ground 

December 10, 2019 at 7:52 AM
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Second possible solution

Instead of using new packges, customers should bring their old one and refill it in the store. The client would pay for the amount of refilled soap/shampoo etc.

A intelligent refilling station could regocnize how much the amount which was refilled and print a ticket with the price (similar to the weight for fruits/vegetables).  

However, this encompasses additional effort from the customers, which is a major drawback and difficult to overcome, unless no other option exists. Moreover, similar solutions exist in ZeroWaste shops. 

 

 

 

Picture source: <div>Icons erstellt von <a href="https://www.flaticon.com/de/autoren/freepik" title="Freepik">Freepik</a> from <a href="https://www.flaticon.com/de/" title="Flaticon">www.flaticon.com</a></div>

December 10, 2019 at 8:07 AM
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The third possible solution, is similar to the second one. That means the packages are reused. But the major difference is, that customers send their empty packages back or return them in the store. The old bottles would go to the manufacturer and the customer would by a new/recycled one. 

 

 

 

Picture source: <div>Icons erstellt von <a href="https://www.flaticon.com/de/autoren/nikita-golubev" title="Nikita Golubev">Nikita Golubev</a> from <a href="https://www.flaticon.com/de/" title="Flaticon">www.flaticon.com</a></div>

December 10, 2019 at 8:10 AM
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The fourth possible solution is to trace where the packaging is coming from. At the first glance, it looks that not a lot on informations are on that. This information would help to understand what could be changed and which actors are involved and could help with a change. 

 

Source of pictures: <div>Icons erstellt von <a href="https://www.flaticon.com/de/autoren/wichaiwi" title="Wichai.wi">Wichai.wi</a> from <a href="https://www.flaticon.com/de/" title="Flaticon">www.flaticon.com</a></div>

December 10, 2019 at 8:31 AM
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Even though the law for the ban is already adopted, the policy-makers didn't propose any alternatives to meet the demand for the plastics. Therefore, in the future will be a demand for alternatives. Bio-based single-use plastics will not be forbidden and provides a real alternative. So the ban will enhance the need for our solution. 

However, single-use plastic is not the most sustainable way, even if it is bio-based plastic.  Therefore, we suggest multiple-use seaweed plastic. The reason is that due to the ban the hotels have to change anyway. If we offer them a single-use option they adopt only a slightly more sustainable solution than the traditional one. But if we offer a multi-use plastic option they could adopt a way more sustainable solution as it would prevent a lot of plastic waste. 

 

 

 

Picture source: <div>Icons erstellt von <a href="https://www.flaticon.com/de/autoren/freepik" title="Freepik">Freepik</a> from <a href="https://www.flaticon.com/de/" title="Flaticon">www.flaticon.com</a></div>

December 10, 2019 at 4:52 PM
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The seaweed brings some drawback with it which makes it highly unfeasible to establish a seaweed plastic which meets the demand. 

First of all, it is seasonal. This makes it very hard for a company to produce a product and relying on the seaweed as a resource.  Second, the state is investing in fuel production made out of seaweed. As a consequence, the seaweed would be used already on a large scale for different purposes. Third, it is questionable whether the bio-based plastic is really more sustainable than the traditional one. That would have been assessed in a Life-cycle assessment. 

December 11, 2019 at 8:33 AM
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Loved seeing the journey spelled out here. You thought about so many different solutions! Really inspiring
2 months ago

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By analyzing Germany's law for waste management, which belongs to the best ones, we derived recommendations for the government of Quintana Roo, which take the local circumstances into account. In the following a few example are mentioned: 

  • The “big businesses” have to present an annual report of their plastic waste management to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

  • The State has to strictly regulate commercial waste separation and introduce an annual compulsory goal for businesses of 50% plastic waste to be recycled.

  • Introduce to retailers in the State a mandatory use of 30% eco-friendly packaging per year, and increase it gradually..

  • Penalize businesses with an increase up to 30% of annual taxes if the management of plastic waste and another type of litter does not fulfill the minimum criteria with efficient practices that contribute to the waste treatment.

  • Incentivize an annual tax reduction for businesses, up to 10%, using award criteria based on an evaluation of their plastic waste & other management, according to their annual informs.

December 11, 2019 at 8:57 AM
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We suggest potential partnerships and mention possible business opportunities in order to improve waste management and meet the demand for alternatives after the implementation of the ban for single-use plastics. For example: 

Improving waste management:

  • incentive-based methods to collect certain types of plastic waste such as PET
  • introducing an optical sorting mechanism, a potential partner might be  Envac Optibag from Sweden who has experience with optical sorting since 1989

Meeting the demand for alternatives to single-use plastics

  • bio-based plastic made out of seaweed, potential business opportunity for Algopack (French) and Evoware (Indonesian)
  • create packaging material made of the waste and by-products of the forestry sector, namely wood-cellulose based materials with the potential partner VTT (Technical Research Center of Finland)

December 11, 2019 at 8:57 AM
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The workshop targeting tourists and locals, kids and adults aims at increasing the awareness about plastic waste pollution. It is an upcycling workshop with educational elements. 

The workshop will contribute in three different ways to the overall goal

1. Raising awareness and increasing acceptance for stricter laws.

2. Increasing pressure on governments and companies as people might ask for more sustainable practices. 

3. Decreasing in consumption of single-use plastics as consumers might change their behavior as their awareness increases.

December 11, 2019 at 8:57 AM
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