PLASTIC. It’s a hot topic and one everyone is talking about. It is ubiquitous, easy to find, cheap, versatile and durable. While the benefits of plastic cannot be matched by other materials, its durability, amongst other disadvantages, poses threats to animals, aquatic life and has impacts on human well-being. Single-use plastic on average has just 12 minutes of usage, after which it is thrown away in perfect or almost perfect condition. Plastic waste is not a recent problem in our society and the reduction of plastic waste is now at the top of the global agenda.
Organized by the lab of tomorrow project and Advance SCP project, the 4-day workshop was attended by Thai and European companies, the public sector, civil society and startups as, for example, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Pollution Control Department, Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, BASF, Coca Cola, Central Group, TUI, Diethelm, Mae Fah Luang Foundation and King Mongkut Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, to name a few.
The lab of tomorrow approach is compounded by three main phases: understand, ideate, validate. Prior to this event, key stakeholders had examined the root cause of the challenge and the business opportunities during the Challenge Framing Workshop in Bangkok on 6th June 2019 and in Frankfurt on 26th June 2019. The result of this two gatherings was the definition of 6 sub-challenges:
Tourism industry packaging reduction
Green consumer goods production
Increasing recycled content
Processed foods packaging
Plastic-free delivery for ready-to-eat food
End of single-use plastic beverage containers
During the 4-day workshop itself, participants from different disciplines worked together to co-create business models coached by Design Thinking and business development experts. On the 4th day, the groups pitched 8 business models and received feedback from the jury made up of representatives from the National Innovation Agency, the Pollution Control Department, Impactech, Thailand Social Enterprise Office and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The ideas include:
1) Tourism industry packaging reduction “Wayste to success” consultancy and platform will provide tailored information, best practices, expertise, trainings and concrete tools in order to help hotel managers overcome the first barriers, get started and compete in the emerging sustainability market. The goal is that hotels replace all plastic products and implement a more sustainable behavior.
2) Green consumer goods production Green Point, an advocacy group will connect all stakeholders to improve green product market share. Green point will act as a portal that helps users to make better sustainable buying decisions, thus creating a more sustainable culture.
3) Increasing recycled content (Group A) The founding of a social enterprise that unites famous brands of Thailand to co-design and use 100% recycled plastic for common or daily-use consumer products such as phone covers, handbags, umbrellas, shopping bags, laptop covers, wallets, Bluetooth speakers. The profit made will be used to raise fund for social enterprises and foundations that are working on plastics management and plastics reduction.
4) Increasing recycled content (Group B)
GREEN LOOP, a convenient 1-Stop-solution for brand owners (large corporates, SMEs) in Thailand will offset plastic waste and bring PET plastic to circularity. Green Loop will collect 25% plastic PET brought to the market and turn it into high-quality raw material in order to produce virgin plastic for food and beverage packaging production.
5) Processed foods packaging
The creation of a trendy instant noodle vending machine with sustainable-designed reusable containers. The machine will allow users to mix and match flavours and types of noodles. The team will explore the option of installing the machine in companies, schools and hospitals. It aims to reduce 13.6 million pieces of single-use plastic packaging, 500 tons of GHG emissions and saving 52,000 trees in 5 years.
6) Plastic-free delivery for ready-to-eat food
GREENUSE is multi-use container delivery and cleaning service. It will provide, manage and track the pick-up, washing and delivery of reusable containers between the consumers and restaurants. It will partner up with food delivery service (to indicate reusable packaging via their app), restaurants and companies that own large office buildings. It aims at reducing single-use plastic packaging in the food delivery industry in Bangkok by 20 % in 2024.
7) End of single-use plastic beverage containers (Group A)
Bag Mai Cup, a supplier and retailer of premium foldable reusable containers aims to replace single-use plastic in Bangkok. The product will be available at Central shopping malls, fresh markets, possibly also 7/11 and shopping malls from The Mall Group. Bag Mai Cup aims to cut down up to 9 million plastic bags and 2 million plastic cups per day in Bangkok.
8) End of single-use plastic beverage containers (Group B)
Happy Cup will replace single use plastic beverage cups with reusable beverage cups using a deposit or refund system. It will be available for sales with membership. Members will earn discount when they buy drinks with the cup from partnered outlets. Once finished, the cup can be returned to use at the outlet. The primary target is mall owners who will benefit from lower waste management costs and Green image. Happy Cup will prevent the use of 324 million cups or 97 tonnes of plastics by 2025.
Having received the valuable feedback from the board, the participants will sharpen they venture idea to apply for the upcoming test phase. The most promising concepts with the highest financial viability and biggest scope of impact will be selected and receive coaching on business development.
Khun Natamon Tankeyul, AVP Corporate Marketing/Alliance/Communication Strategy of Central Group, one of the participants said, “I think the way of approaching the problem and seeking a solution by being open-minded to all the possibilities will make a difference to the way we work. The workshop gave all participants a step-by-step walkthrough and had good energy. Design thinking is a good choice to use as a tool in solving or reaching possible solutions. Networking, meeting and exchanging knowledge and skills with people from other types of business was also a brilliant platform for innovation.”
The lab of tomorrow process works by taking advantage of agile methods, openness and innovation to create new business. It encourages the private sector to engage in translating development challenges into business opportunities. It is run on behalf of BMZ.
Advance SCP project (Advancing and Measuring Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) for a Low-Carbon Economy in Middle-Income and Newly Industrialized Countries) aims to integrate climate friendly criteria into the eco-labels of the target countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines and improve mutual recognition of the eco-labels in the Southeast Asian region. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.