Plastic Hackathon 2019

On February 9, Ellie (LVI), Jasmine (LVI) and I arrived at Imperial College for the Plastic Hackathon 2019 after a week’s preparation for the event; this week of preparation had given us a much greater knowledge and awareness of the issue of single-use plastics, so our minds were full of ideas on how to tackle it with ambitious, long-lasting solutions.

Upon arrival, we were taken to the pitch room to practise our keynote speeches before heading upstairs to deliver them. This was a great opportunity to express our points of view on our focused topics, mine being single-use plastics in Grab and Go food. In my speech, I communicated how we as consumers have become indifferent about the harm caused by these plastics because we base our consumption on convenience. I also ambitiously tried to alter this attitude throughout my speech, without taking away from consumers’ need for a quick and easy bite to eat.

When the keynote speeches drew to a close, we were given insightful talks from Chris Sherwin of Reboot innovation and Sally Beken of UK Circular Plastics Network; these helped us to think about how we could transition products and solutions onto the market.

We then separated off into our focus groups to think about making products that could act as solutions to our focused topics before heading off to lunch, where I was able to gain an insight into the work of the Design graduates at Imperial College; it was very interesting to see how they combined utility and an educational aspect in their designs.

After further work on designing a product to solve the problem of single-use plastics in Grab and Go food, we had a talk from Leila Sheldrick, coordinator of the Global Innovation Design MA/MSc degree course at the Royal College of Art. In it, she discussed products that had already been made to counter various single-use plastics issues; it was fascinating to hear how the makers of these products found a gap in the market and how their solutions could be easily adopted.

Ultimately, my group settled on creating rentable Tupperware (branding ourselves ‘Tupper Club’) which can be dropped off at a drop-off point after use, therefore eliminating the need for single-use plastics in Grab and Go food, as well as outsourcing the washing up process. We also thought about how we could make this an enticing opportunity for consumers (apps with reward schemes) and retailers (save money on packaging in the long run) alike.

Finally, we received advice on how to effectively present our ideas by Jake Higgins from Venture Partners before being given an hour to compose a pitch containing our strategy, the problem, the solutions and the financials. After this, the awards were given and I was thrilled for my team to be announced runners up. My group then all exchanged emails and at the moment we are all still strategising to see how we can take ‘Tupper Club’ into the up and coming market of reusable packaging.

Phoebe (LVI)