Reducing plastic waste in packaging

The use of single-use plastic has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. The increasing generation of packaging waste is detrimental to the environment and a significant contributor towards GHG emissions. As a result, the circular economy is gaining traction while companies seek to reduce demand on finite raw materials and minimizing negative externalities. The World Economic Forum estimates that 95% of plastic packaging material value, equivalent to $80–120 billion annually, is lost to the economy. Such staggering numbers has led Pioneers like Yazmin Leon seek solutions and alternatives to reduce packaging waste for transport packaging and e-commerce business.

Joining Pioneers energized me to come up with revolutionary solutions strategies to climate change. The training program propels you to come up with your own inventions to existing world problems.

During her Pioneers workshop, Yazmin and her team worked on finding alternative solutions for packaging in the transport sector, applying circular economy models. The goal of the project was to reduce packaging waste for a hardware store as it relates to transport packaging in their e-commerce business. They found that if the store would implement sustainable strategies, such as reducing usage of single use plastics, and instead using cardboard, and paperboards in their packaging, or repacks and reusable shipping boxes such as corrugated plastic boxes, they could cut down on global emissions: “The group challenge was the most demanding, in that managing a group’s schedule and ideas,” she mentioned.

Yazmin’s group manager during her workshop was instrumental in her working group. Speaking of her recommendations, Yazmin said: “I loved how she guided us throughout the process and helped us use our individual strengths. Since we did not always have physical contact with all group members, this kind of prioritization helped us perfect our work. It was also useful to know what others’ strengths and weaknesses were, because we could now easily ask for help where we need each other’s support.”

Pioneers is a project that she would recommend to anyone. “I increased my environmental network through my group and through interactions with participants in the workshop. This could not have been able if it were not for Pioneers,” she said. She hopes to take part in other Climate-KIC international placement in the future as she continues diversifying her network. Yazmin sees Pioneers as an important community that equips participants with the skills, connections, and experience to lead multidisciplinary innovation initiatives. She believes that the program can be further improved for future cohorts, in the entrepreneurship realm, to include an implementation component such as how to implement climate solutions from zero.