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How can we increase the percentage of plastics being recycled?
business strategy supply chain sustainability creative strategy supply chain management innovation environmental awareness environmental engineering consumer insights environmental issues
top 25
26 months ago
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Recycling is a process that has been a hot topic for years, but it is still a major issue. We are becoming increasingly aware that there is far too much single-use plastic packaging that ends up in landfills or our oceans, but solving this problem is complex.  

Products move from manufacturer to the consumer through several steps.  Products are packaged at the manufacturer, then put in cartons and possibly wrapped with a plastic film for shipping to a retailer’s warehouse.  From there, a carton might go to a store, along with other products, wrapped by plastic or could be repacked into a different carton or envelope to ship directly to a consumer.  Ready-to-eat food typically uses different types of packaging than something on the shelves in the middle of the supermarket.  

As a result, multiple types of plastic packaging find their way into the same places.  When consumers, or even companies, want to recycle their plastic, there may be several different types mixed together.  Imagine a soft drink bottle, a detergent bottle, a milk bottle, and plastic wrap all using different types of plastic, combined in a single bin for collection.  Or packaging that uses several types of materials, like a juice box. Mixed plastics are hard to recycle through the systems available today, so recycling rates remain low. 


We are interested in your ideas to increase the amount of consumers and companies who regularly recycle. Then, we want you to take the process a step further and tell us your ideas for how companies can use those recycled materials for their products and packaging. Specifically answer the following: 

  1. How can we develop a system to reduce the problem of mixed plastic waste – so that we can increase the volume of recycled plastics being used by manufacturers and retailers?
    1. What is your idea for a program, initiative, campaign, etc that will make the average  business or consumer recycle more plastic to enable more plastic recycling overall?
    2. How will the interest and engagement be sustained long-term?
  2. E-commerce is driving major increases in the amount of packaging and cartons being used to deliver products to consumers. 
    1. How can we reduce the amount of packaging required to deliver products from the manufacturer to warehouse, then to the retailer (for pickup) or to the consumer?
    2. Why will companies be interested in adopting this strategy?

Considerations: In order to provide the best possible idea(s) to this company, please consider researching environmentally conscious supply chain practices as well as mixed plastic waste so your submission is both creative and feasible! Don't be afraid to push the envelope - this is about saving the planet and "safe" ideas sadly won't make enough impact.

    Submissions will be graded on the following criteria:
  • Meets Deliverables
  • Creativity
  • Clarity
Reward Tiers
5 Winners
will receive $120 each
20 Honorable Mentions
will receive $50 each
$120.00 Square pic 60 20220413 071449 UMaT
$120.00 M
$120.00 Square pic 60 img072 2 Harvard University
$120.00 M University of Illinois at Chicago
$120.00 Square pic 60 screen shot 2019 06 16 at 5.23.53 pm Queen's University
$50.00 N
$50.00 Square pic 60 38197 McGill University
$50.00 Square pic 60 obasogie okpamen profile picture Landmark University
$50.00 A University of St. Gallen
$50.00 Picture?width=160
$50.00 Square pic 60 whatsapp image 2019 10 18 at 13.14.05 BITS PILANI
$50.00 Square pic 60 wp 20140415 004 Delhi University
$50.00 Square pic 60 photo 2 Jacobs University Bremen
$50.00 Square pic 60 matthew gaiser calgary bow headshot  1 Queen's University
$50.00 T University of Cambridge
$50.00 K Ryerson University
$50.00 Square pic 60 img 20181008 wa0034 University of Cape Coast
$50.00 G Minnesota State University Moorhead
$50.00 Square pic 60 duolingo default University of Hawaii
$50.00 A
$50.00 Square pic 60 10 31 14 pro Walden University
$50.00 J
$50.00 J
$50.00 Square pic 60 6be95546d3ad8609795545599b1648ad West Virginia University
$50.00 Square pic 60 img 0377  2020 03 03 14 50 08 utc Honolulu community college
Submission questions

How often do you recycle?

As much as possible (at home and when out)
Only at home
Only when it's easy to accomplish (so not that often)
Almost never