POLY-SEA: PHASING OUT PLASTIC POLLUTION

While Studying At
Parsons School of Design

Project

Masters Thesis 

Role

  • Design Research

  • Service Design

  • Design Thinking

  • Print Design

Location & Year

New York, 2017

OVERVIEW

Poly-sea aims to create a shift in both corporate decisions on plastic packaging and on consumer behaviour. Consumers will be able to support brands that are taking action to reduce plastic pollution by opting for ocean-friendly products that this project will certify. 

 

The certified ocean-friendly brands are either using fully biodegradable materials, or are providing resources to take as much plastic out of the environment as they put in each year.

RESEARCH

We use plastic in packaging every day. Its disposable nature makes it an easier choice. Its transparent texture makes it more appealing. Its ability to contain moisture makes it more practical. However, its chemical properties make it hard to break down. 

 

These favourable qualities of plastic may be momentarily beneficial to us, but they are causing serious havoc to the environment. 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans each year, poisoning the marine ecosystem. More marine life species are endangered today than ever before, and a lot of them are close to or if not already extinct.

OBSERVATIONS & INTERVIEWS

There were three main observations that led to my inspiration for this project. I worked on a Marine Conservation Project with Global Vision International in Mexico where I was a part of beach cleans and experiences the impact of plastic pollution first hand. To learn more about how design can play a role by upcycling ocean plastic, I interned with an organization called Parley for the Oceans in New York City. They collaborate with brands like Adidas to design eco-innovative products that are changing the fashion industry. Lastly, I worked with a recycling and sustainability hub called Sure We Can in Brooklyn to get a more comprehensive understanding of the laws and regulations behind waste management.

 

To obtain a more holistic understanding of how of plastic production and recycling functions, I reached out to a variety of experts. These professionals included people responsible for endorsing or investing in recycling initiatives, supply chain analytics consultancies, designers, businesspeople, environmental organizations, recycling centers and sustainability coordinators.

CERTIFICATION PROPOSAL

Poly-sea aims to create a shift in both corporate decisions on plastic packaging and on consumer behaviour. Consumers will be able to support brands that are taking action to reduce plastic pollution by opting for ocean-friendly products that this project will certify. The certified ocean-friendly brands are either using fully biodegradable materials, or are providing resources to take as much plastic out of the environment as they put in each year.

 

By assessing how much plastic packaging the brand is producing every year and how much of that they offset by using biodegradable materials and supporting plastic recycling facilities, the certification seal will be granted to those who comply. In order make this happen I need to team up with a well-known organization who has the credibility to endorse brands with this certification.

VALUE PROPOSITIONS

There are two key value propositions to this being implemented into the system of an organization. As the brand will be paying for the endorsement, it will be a stable revenue stream for the research institute to fund their work. It will also help spread awareness by showcasing the mission of that organization. 

 

From the brand’s perspective, having the certification for their product will boost their sales by highlighting their corporate social responsibility value in terms of campaigning and marketing.