Poly-sea: Phasing Out Plastic Pollution

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.

 

Poly-sea was my Masters thesis at Parsons School of Design in New York City. It aims to create a shift in both corporate decisions on plastic packaging and on consumer behaviour.

Service

Design Research & Systems Thinking

Year

2017

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OBjECTIVE

As someone who is passionate about marine conservation, the astonishing levels of plastic pollution in the oceans deeply worries me.

 

My objective of this thesis was to understand more about plastic recycling and the circular economy. 

 

OUTCOME

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.

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Research

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.

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Interviews

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.

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Certification Seal

The Poly-sea seal 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.

Circular System

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 Proposition

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. 

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© Suma Balaram, 2020 

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