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Plasform - Level Up!

Plasform - Level Up!

by plasform | updated December 13, 2019

Plasform is a platform aiming to raise the standards of waste management companies in Senegal. The companies successfully pursuing our criteria will be certified with the label.

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Plasform is a platform aiming to raise the standards of waste management companies in Senegal. The companies successfully pursuing our criteria will be certified with the label.

Team members:

Alice Vandenberghe

André da Silva Amaral

Jovhar Museyibzada

Nwagbo Onuoha

November 29, 2019 at 9:13 AM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnTqPYsFsgs

Based on previous week’s critiques, we focused on working on the sustainability criteria for landfilling, recycling and incineration. On that week, we got a response from Idrissa Diatta, the coordinator of UCG (Unité de Coordination de la Gestion des déchets solides), the institution responsible for waste management in Senegal, informing that there is an Extended Producer Responsibility law coming in 2020. We tried to articulate this new information with the label’s idea with Helen, and she said that our label could exempt the companies from Government’s auditings, which could represent a financial saving for them. She offered to help us revising the criteria after we finished. We did some research about the best practices for each category of waste management and put the references that we thought were suitable on the platform’s website. We designed a logo for the label.

After the pitch (you can find link above), Louise gave us a list of suggestions to be implemented for the final pitch, as a strategy to present our project in a more comprehensible and contextualized way. 

November 29, 2019 at 10:56 AM
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Nice use of the weekly pitch video in the documentation process!
4 months ago

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Product:

link to the website: https://alicevandenberghe.wixsite.com/plasform

 

November 29, 2019 at 11:02 AM
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https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/16D_wG1UGPFmUY7lQ2zatj_OVrlaRz4ZQHJaBRYvtEbo/edit#slide=id.g7553e2a865_0_0

We started thinking about the incentives for the companies to join the platform and we came up with the idea of creating a sustainability label, in which we would measure how sustainable are the companies’ practices. We thought that the label could imply some tax reduction for the companies who were certified and we tried to find support for this in the existing Senegal legislation, but we couldn’t find much information about taxes for private waste management companies. We worked on putting some content on the platform’s website, like the related SDGs and the space where the criteria for each category of waste management would be found. 

After our pitch (you can find the link above), the criticism was that we need to shape better the idea of incentives for the companies and to establish the sustainability criteria for tracking the companies’ progress.

November 29, 2019 at 11:15 AM
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We started the week with the idea of interfering in the trans-boundary movement of plastic waste by creating business-to-business model in which companies can trade plastic waste. We anticipated that more transparent trade via platform would help recipient companies to upgrade in a few years catching up with the international standards of plastic management while gradually turning focus on domestic plastic waste. As a result plastic waste management companies will become competent enough to deal with domestic waste. Moreover, Professor Louise told us about the possible policies on making the developed countries pay for the cost of the negativity caused by their exported plastic crap. Thus, we thought of cost internalization as a possible way to improve plastic waste companies in our chosen country.

In the trans-boundary movement of plastic waste, Senegal has stood up as it entered the picture as a recipient country for the first time after the China's severe restriction on plastic import. Furthermore, Senegal is expected to show a pessimistic trend in future, since it will be one of the top countries in Africa which lacks capacity to manage plastic waste. Those reasons compelled us to choose Senegal as our focal point. ​

In addition: 

  • leveling the plainfield → by leveling the plainfield in Senegal, we thought to turn improvement into opportunity for Senegal. As Senegal reaches high standards such as EU standards, meanwhile keeping management costs low compared to Europe, it may become one of the leading domestic waste managing countries. 

  • Question for us remained to be 'How to make the partners comply?'. 

  • We searched Senegalese plastic waste management companies trying to get insight on 'how efficiently they are processing the plastic crap?', 'what follows up in the supply chain after the processing?' etc.

December 12, 2019 at 4:01 AM
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We visited the Basel Convention (BC) in Geneva, on October 18, and we pitched our idea to Susan Wingfield, Melisa Lim, Marius Wiher. We asked a set of prepared questions regarding some details of the BC such as 'What is stopping MS from implementing the Basel Convention and what is their perception on plastic as a new hazardous waste?', 'Where does US fit in this whole discussion of applying new amendment?'.

Their feedback was positive, in the sense that they individually acknowledge the private/informal trade of plastics as an important variable in developing countries. Moreover, they offered to put us in contact with the Basel Convention Centre in Senegal.

Action points from the meeting

After the meeting we as a group “Connecting Plastic” has decided to take the following points into account and drew up a list of action points arising from the meeting:


- We acknowledge that companies are reluctant to be subjected to regulations, certification and monitoring of plastic movement. Our main challenge remains to build a business model that will incentivize both sending and recipient companies of plastic waste to conduct their transactions via framework we intend to create.


- We acknowledge the concern that Basel Convention has regarding the further encouragement of the international trade of plastic waste. However, on the other hand, it is predicted that countries with poor waste management systems are going to carry the burden (for lucrative economic gains) in future as many emerging economies refuse to take the responsibility. We are planning to gather an extensive data on current shipment routes of plastic waste and its future evolution. Moreover, we need to have a detailed insight into composition of those wastes shipped to the global south and path it takes after entering national waters of developing countries.


- We will benchmark and get an idea of other initiatives that are present and make use of their knowledge partly through connections you will potentially provide us with.

December 12, 2019 at 4:38 AM
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We proudly present to you our eleven-week intensive work!

link to the pitch:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1kkAP2_4RikXfSZO8v3zNQuhA53hQDbd5n9RdUqxGjMI/edit#slide=id.g7aa4206048_0_3

link to the project video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guj7NH-8ZWE&feature=youtu.be

Glimpse of the report:

Rationale: In order to counter the problem of waste management in Senegal, we came up with the idea of Plasform and the Social and Environmental Responsibility (SO-ECO) label being with it. Plasform is a platform aiming to raise the standards of waste management companies in Senegal. The companies successfully pursuing the given criteria will be certified with the So-Eco label, in collaboration with the assemblées locales (similar to the government of the regions). 

So-Eco stays quite flexible, some minor nonconformities might be allowed. Once all the criteria are fulfilled, the next step would be to continue working on them to ensure a good maintenance of the standards, by having auditors coming once every two years for instance, for monitoring. This guarantees the consistency and engagement of the WMC.

Another particularity of the So-Eco label is that it takes into account the features of the local communities. We want to provide broad guidelines of a social and environmental sound waste management to the different Senegalese regions. It would be a public-private partnership; first, plasform would interact with the local authorities to provide them with the criteria. Then, the authorities are adapting the requirements to the region and can provide the final criteria to the WMC. The public and private sector are thus working in close relation with each other. Eventually, the regions’ authorities are the ones handing out the label to the WMC.

Benchmarking:

- Basel Convention

- African Clean Cities Platform

- RecycleInMe

- Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA)

What is “success” for Plasform?:

The project’s success in Senegal can be defined as a plastic pollution free Senegal. Society and environment in Senegal suffer from direct outcomes and indirect externalities of plastic pollution. Collectively taking a step towards sound management of plastic waste can potentially break the back of the pollution problem in the country. In order to evaluate our success, we need to analyse the degree of success in each of the following three pre-conditions: Senegalese regional authorities (or at least the major ones) and WMCs agree on methods plasform proposes in order to improve plastic waste management; both authority and WMCs define localized version of sustainability criteria on a common ground; and the third is  regional authorities continuously oversee the compliance of the WMCs, certifying the successful companies with SO-ECO label.

Methods:

Throughout our whole project’s conception, we based our assumptions on thorough research and interviews with key local actors that helped us to better understand the context and the challenges regarding WM issues in Senegal.

 

 

December 12, 2019 at 4:39 AM
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We moved on to creating a knowledge-sharing platform, in which we aimed to improve the sustainability practices of plastic WM companies by connecting them with experts in this field. We started to contact Senegalese companies asking if they would be interested in joining the platform. At the end of the week V, we had already contacted 10 WM companies and related NGOs. Our assumptions were: by creating this platform, we would contribute to make each country responsible for the waste that they create. 

In week VI, we got some responses from the companies we had contacted. We consolidated our project as a knowledge-sharing platform for making plastic WM companies more sustainable and we moved to the market survey phase, in which we were reaching potential collaborators and companies to know 'if they would be interested in joining such a project', 'what are the challenges for improving sustainability standards in the companies' etc. We did a benchmarking research of similar platforms that are already in place. We started to build the actual platform web site, to help us to shape our idea with a concrete object.

December 12, 2019 at 6:10 PM
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Our group decided that creating a marketplace in the international waste market where companies can go and trade with each other knowing they have to deal with the international law is unsustainable when we take all the ramifications of this idea into account. First of all, many companies would still defect from participating in the platform  trying to avoid obligations coming with membership (i.e. compliance with domestic and international law). Secondly, Basel Convention forbids members to trade with non members unless they have a bilateral agreement. This means our project will mainly exclude US from our platform when it comes to the trade with Senegalese waste management companies. Lastly, we found the concerns of the Basel Convention reasonable over the negative impression that might be created. Trade appeared to be on the forefront of the platform. We thought our platform should at least weight  environmental, societal and economic aspects equally. 

December 12, 2019 at 6:12 PM
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During our group meeting in week IX, we contacted Madani Sy (The Secretary General of the Union for Sanitation in Senegal). He gave insight into real challenges within the country when it comes to implementing the adopted laws and talked about the lack of capacity (i.e. technological) in companies to become more sustainable. Taking Madani’s and Louise’s remarks into consideration, we have decided to search for sustainability criteria with achievable goals rather than applying highly technical standards adopted by the EU or USA. After the deliberation with Louise, we have discovered IRMA scheme which seeks to bring socially and environmentally responsible mining with global vision and applicability. Using their scheme with Senegalese context in mind would put more achievable goals for companies. We will try to encourage local regions in Senegal to adopt these criteria with particular inputs from them as well in order to ensure sound and low-cost management of plastic waste. On the other hand, we finalized our platform website with several display features such as labelling and progress bar, knowledge share. Our group designed logo, came up with slogan (Level Up!) for our project and with the label name (SoEco). 

December 12, 2019 at 6:38 PM
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We initially planned to set up criteria in the platform for incineration, landfilling and recycling separately taking practices of European Commission Directive 1993/31, British Plastic Federation and Stockholm Convention into account. However, we found out that setting non-localized standards might discourage WMCs to take action. Thus, we rather opted to set frameworks under which public authorities and companies can create their own localized criteria. However, all the aforementioned standards from the developed countries remained in the knowledge share part of our platform in order to guide the WMCs in Senegal with examples.

December 13, 2019 at 5:23 AM
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December 13, 2019 at 8:08 AM
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Even though this is the initial picture of our role division, in the later weeks we have become flexible working rather collectively on all tasks.

December 13, 2019 at 8:18 AM
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December 13, 2019 at 8:26 AM
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Nice to see the Plasform journey recorded in all its iterations. Well done
4 months ago

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What is the challenge?
Exporting plastic to developing nations is a convenient way for developed countries to get rid of their plastic waste and avoid disposal costs and impacts at home. However, these shipments often end up in countries with poor and inefficient plastic waste treatments. The plastic is usually dumped, leading to the pollution of oceans and land, affecting the health of inhabitants too.

How many people are affected and how does the problem impact their lives?
Plastic pollution is affecting everyone. In particular, the developing countries recipient of foreign plastic waste. The most vulnerable people are those communities in the surroundings of the plastic facilities and landfills. The health of these communities is hugely impacted, not only in developing but in developed countries as well, due to the toxins released from the incineration for instance. 

What do you think needs to change? What is the problem?
Assuming that the illegal plastic trade is a given, since the economic interests underlying this relation is patent for poor countries, our proposal is to shed light on this issue with the creation of a market platform to connect exporters of plastic waste to sustainable recipient waste treatment facilities in developing countries. This could facilitate the transfer of expertise and technology from developed countries to treatment stations, following the principle of internalizing externalities. We would encourage the engagement of the private sector, namely the producers of plastic packaging, in the platform.

How your solutions would address the problem?
Our proposal would be to build a platform connecting exporting private companies of plastic in developed countries to private sustainable treatment facilities in developing countries. This platform would track and monitor the process from the exporting countries to the recipient countries.

This would avoid the improper discard of plastic waste in the environment of vulnerable communities in developing countries, and its further diffusion in the oceans. In addition to that, the infrastructure promoted through the platform would allow recipient countries to deal sustainably with their own domestic waste.

December 13, 2019 at 8:29 AM
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