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Objective:

The goal of this challenge is to define a problematic process and identify areas for improvement. Simply put, what bothers you? 

Plastic water bottles

I don’t like plastic water bottles. I don’t like the feel of them or the sound they make. They do not keep water cold.  I do a lot of hiking and I am sick and tired of seeing them strewn everywhere. I doubt they are 100% recyclable since they have stickers/glue on them. Since they are cheap / flimsy people seem to think they are OK to just throw anywhere and have no inherent value. They do not think to refill them, but they are too flimsy to reuse often. To be fair, if you are hiking, or walking through town, there are very few good places to refill them since drinking fountains are few and far between.

La bouteille qui regardait passer les kitesurf

“La bouteille qui regardait passer les kitesurf” by kadha is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

List of problems:

Flimsy design

Very poor insulator

No incentive to keep (for reuse or another purpose)

No incentive to return / put in bin / recycle

Nowhere to refill them easily and safely with cold, drinkable water

Stores and restaurants do not offer refills readily

Poor education – people don’t understand or see the damage they do when they toss one or two away

Process:

  1. Baseline research amount of plastic bottle waste in given areas, landfill and in oceans.

  2. Survey people on opinions re: plastic bottles.

  3. Compare costs of clean-up / disposal to the amount of money they make.

  4. Educate young children first (they will badger parents into changing habits). Educate them re: the problems of plastic in the environment. Take them for a walk to count bottles at the side of roads etc.

  5. Phase out plastic with glass that can be returned for refund at any store (Beer Store too) or reused by person for around the house (flower vase etc)

  6. Add more drinking fountains designed to deliver water into a bottle, so  no germs or dogs drinking from it. 

  7. Restaurants offer refills of water bottles for hikers / passers-by. Maybe small fee?

  8. Major bottled water companies develop water dispensing machines with a fee, to encourage refills.

  9. Restaurants give you a glass bottle of water and when you return an empty bottle you get a stamp on a coffee card etc. They sterilize bottle and use it again.

  10. Follow up study of roadside debris. Number of bottles reduced? Less in landfill? Less in oceans? Judge success by comparing it to baseline.

  11. Assess children on their knowledge and habits throughout their school careers. Was the education program a success? Is society making positive changes based upon education and incentives?

  12. Survey people on their use of drinking fountains, opinions re: glass bottles etc.

  13. Bottled water companies assess if they are still making profit without harmful plastic. What new revenue streams are there?

  14. Conclusions and recommendations for the future.

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