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Eliminate use of plastics at every step.

Read lots of articles on modern plastic technologies and merged them with traditional ideas of packaging to identify various opportunities.

Photo of Rishank Singh
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Owing to modern methodologies there are various ways to reuse and recycle plastics. Plastics can be used as inks for modern 3-d printers to create new products but the problem is that after every use the quality gets reduced and the product may end up more brittle. Although a great idea that would contribute to savings, the plastic still remains.

Another methodology, I considered as an option was depolymerisation of dead plastic into hydrocarbons such as petrol, diesel and high-speed diesel. But this is again creating fuel that will be burned. 

Artificial skin is the new talk of the town where an artificial skin can be created using plastics that would selfheal at room temperatures. A good idea would be packing sachet with the material that can be used as artificial skin. 

But why do we need plastics after all when we have a solution. I call this solution as Indian milkman solution.Before the dairy as an industry took over, the milk man in India used to supply milk door to door. Yes, there was no carton or plastic used. 

Taking this as an example, I propose an idea to change the delivery model and in current age we definitely have all the resources to eliminate plastic altogether. The idea also throws some light on reimagine the package area.


I propose to implement the solutions in three steps. Each step has the potential to contribute significantly if implemented in efficient manner. They are-

1)Manufacturing of Packaging materials-The first and foremost step should be to make changes in the manufacturing of packaging materials. Right from the start focus should be on how to make the packaging materials eco-friendly.In current times, we have various technologies and findings that can make conventional packaging materials 100% biodegradable. Some of them are 

-Adding pro-degradant concentrates to the plastic can increase its biodegradable properties to 100 %within weeks.

-A synthetic polyester such as polycaprolactone can be used as it completely degrades after six weeks ofcomposting. 

-PLA (Polylactic Acid) is another synthetic polyester made from corn that can be used for packaging foods. PLA,when mixed with starch increases its biodegradability and reduces its cost.

-Packaging materials made of bamboo are rapidly gaining pace. It provides the best solution to tackle plastic problem. Small boxes, utensils and even toothbrushes  made up of bamboo are readily  being used in many places. Moreover Dell uses bamboo packaging to deliver its products. So definitely there is huge scope in this area.

2)At the product manufacturing centres-If manufacturers are really concerned about making changes, it is them who needs to take the necessary steps in the right direction. At manufacturing plants where products are manufactured and packaged, a research team should focus on innovative ways to pack the finished products in innovative ways. Some of the ideas that come in to my mind are- 

-If a medicine can been capsulated in edible material then why not small candies. In fact, a group in UK have created a material that can encapsulate water which has the potential to eliminate plastic bottles. This would be extremely useful in case of delivering packets of water during disaster relief. 

-The other materials that can replace plastics can be a wheat flour that hardens when left to dry, orangepeels that harden on drying. In fact, there are several companies already making plastics out of wheat, maize and even potatoes. 

-A bottle made of earth also keeps the water cool and enriches it with natural minerals. But again, small bottles used in flights and trains can be made of material that can be used for artificial skin industry. Glass made of sand definitely is one of the materials that can used as substitute for plastic bottles. 

-Silk screen printed wrappers are sprouting in various silk producing states in India, which is an excellent way to get rid of those plastic wrappers. More over the screens are reusable and can operate on return and get incentives model where a customer returns the wrapper after use and gets some incentives. 

3)Delivering to the Consumer/Customer-Lastly it is us the consumers of the products who need to be conscious about the environment, about our future. In marketing terms, it is said that customer is God and hence if the collective conscious of the customer rises and a step is taken forward,definitely producers will change the ways the things are being done. Some ofthe methods of product delivery to the customers are-

-Customers should bring acollector bin with themselves and those bins would be made of wood that cangrow into a plant/tree when thrown carelessly on the soil. If liquid wood is used they can be recycled completely. The bins would have measurements marked onit and an automated machine would fill the bin as per requirements. e.g. To get 500 ml of shampoo, I would enter 500 ml on the machine and the machine wouldfetch the required quantity and fill the bin. Or even if we want to buy products on daily basis say 10 ml of shampoo, we can get small light weight wooden bins to buy them or bins made of rice husks that can be planted. Even small bins made of soil can be used which would revive the pottery industry as well. Not long ago, in Asia, people tea was delivered in kullhad (a cup made ofmud to drink tea). There was not any plastic cup to drink tea. 

-Bags made of paper are widely being used these days. For slightly heavy materials such as 1 kg of flour,customers should get bags made up of wood. Not long time ago we used bags made up of cloths to get the refined wheat flour. 

-Giving a small discount would bea great way to makes the customers conscious about these things. 

-A much better and feasible thingto do is ask the consumer to return the unused plastic to the vendor to avail discounts. The vendor will immediately segregate the plastics and put into respective bins. This method must be implemented with immediate effect. 

The best way would be to explain with an example. Let’s say there is a factory that produces products such as candies, shampoos or even mineral water. An idea way would be that they pack these materials into biodegradable wrappers or packaging materials mentioned above and send these to distribution centres. From the distribution centres customers procure these products in the biodegradable bags and thus earning a small token of appreciation/discount. 

So, we have a blueprint where wecan revitalize old ideas and blend those with modern plastic technology and puta step forward in right direction.

Idea Title

Striving excellence at every step.

Where are you / your team located?


How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

Well this idea aims at removing the use of plastic packaging altogether. My aim is to merge the ancient storage and packaging methodologies with modern and advancing technologies. I have quoted all natural methodologies of packaging that hold the potential to completely eliminate plastics and most importantly for those less conscious people, they can be thrown carelessly on the lids made of wood can be grown into a tree, containers made of soil reunites at its source.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

single use sachet, bottle caps and tear offs, straws and take away coffee lids.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Anywhere in the world but heavy consumer countries such as India, China and U.S are a top priority.We are talking about 3 billion+ people and these methodologies when used can easily be implemented here and set the standard for future generations.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Everywhere around the world people are looking for change.With proper marketing campaigns and small events in a town, the ideas can attract interest of individual and entrepreneurs. At places like Dharamshala, Haridwar in India, where use of plastics is banned, the ideas can easily attract interest of individuals and entrepreneurs. Organising social events would enable like minded people connecting over a common cause.The only obstacle I see in this implementation is non willingness to try.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Becoming a top idea and getting to work with New Plastic Economy Accelerator program would open new world of opportunities for me and my vision for the future. The program would lay a strong foundation to pitch the ideas to the companies such as Unilever, P&G and start ups to use and carry out further research on these areas. Climbing a mountain begins with a small step. . I firmly believe in the sentence as a little modification in lifestyle would pave way for secure and sustainable future.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

I believe we all have ideas everywhere. My idea simply came from thinking about the fact that 20 years earlier I never saw plastics used for milk and today we use milk packed in plastic. Further during a visit to my grandmother's place I saw some traditional storage ideas such as earthen pots used for storing water and pickles. Small observations but I consider them more relevant in present times.

Tell us about your work experience

I am a mechanical engineer and a MBA graduate in marketing and analytics. My professional experience comprises of 41 months with multinational organisations such as Infosys Limited and Cognizant.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Troy Gardner

some good ideas. Indian milk men is also an inspriation to me, as is the milkmen in the USA in the 50's.

Photo of Rishank Singh

Hi Troy thanks for your compliments. Nature is our common ancestor.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Rishank!

Thank you for participating in the challenge. It is great to learn about what inspired your idea.

There are a lot of parts to your idea. What would you initially focus upon in the context of the challenge brief -

Focusing on the delivery model, would you be able to explain how the products would get to the customer for one of the use cases - ? Perhaps you could use a diagram to illustrate this.

Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

Photo of Rishank Singh

Thanks for your inputs Kate. Will work on your suggestions.