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Plastic payment for Barter trade.

To obtain candy or a straw, produce a candy wrapper or a used straw in addition to item money. Enable recycling in all levels of production.

Photo of Ovonyoli Wanjiku
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Growing up in a low income family, the glass bottle from coca cola was very valuable item in any household because it was a means of acquiring a new bottle of soft drink with additional payment for the drink within. The requirement in a retail shop was payment for the commodity alongside producing a used bottle of the same quantity one desired. 

So the environmental problem is drinking straws, small caps and sachets for low quantity commodities. Instead of going to local individuals who are more concerned with their family and financial problems than with the environment, the innovation will go to the producers and distributors. For every quantity of production that is set for distribution, the entity will have to provide an equal amount of the recycled product for the environmental watchdogs in their community before production is authorised. 

For example, to produce one satchel 5g ketchup, the production company will have to produce a used satchel of 5g ketchup. The ripple effect is that the wholesale will have to provide the producing company with the same satchel. The wholesaler will get the item from the retailer and the retailer will obtain it from the final consumer who will use it as a legal tender in addition to the monetary value of the commodity to obtain a fresh packet of 5g ketchup. 

The same will apply for straw where you have to produce a used straw to obtain a new one. Water bottles where the additional restriction will be to ensure that the water bottle has its cap intact. The innovation of plastic payment in barter trade will force individual to reserve their plastic packages for use in obtaining a new commodity. Then the recycling measure will be the focus of the final recipient that uses the product, which is the original producing and packaging organisation. The said organisations can work on either repurposing the plastic products by sanitizing them for reuse of using chemical processes to create new products from the used products. 

I understand that some low income individual make money from collecting plastic waste and taking them to recycling plants. These individuals can still make a living by collecting the used plastic and selling them to the rich individuals who were not careful to preserve the packages of their commodities for future use. It will be like changing all forms of plastic waste into money, literally. The catch is that the person producing the plastic for an exchange has to first ensure it basic cleanliness with no product in it. 

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

Plastic waste is already in the environment and there is little left to do. The idea will prevent unnecessary production of more waste and force recycling and reusing efforts. individual will trade in the plastic in their possession or in the environment for new plastic and thus, instead of producing more plastic, the system will focus on exchanging plastic for plastic. The packaging and production entities that benefit from the small plastic will then device recycling and reusing measures.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Case three- Straws and take away coffee lids Case two- Bottle caps and tear-offs Case one- Single- use sachets for liquid consumer products

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The target for implementing the idea is the producing and packaging companies as well as environmental impact policy makers who will work to initiates penalties for non compliance. The challenge is corruption in which public officials at times choose to turn a blind eye to policies that benefit the environment. If I need candy, I take a candy wrapper to the retailer, if i need a straw, I give a used straw, I i need a sachet of soap, I carry a used one. The policy makers ensure that I comply.

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.

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

When I become a top idea, the prize money will be sufficient to roll out the necessary campaigns in my region as well as get the government and policy makers on board with the idea. It will also be possible to further my research on the idea and develop effective implementation. What I know is that everyone is eager to make the environment better, they just do not have the avenues and the time. My innovation provides the convenience needed for the average person to conserve the environment.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

My idea is an individual idea which is from my father's retail shop where the idea is under implementation albeit to a small extent and for limited products. For individuals to obtain soft drinks in my father's retail shop, they have to produce a used glass bottle of the same measure and quality along with an additional amount for the content. With massive campaigning and effective policy support, the idea is a possibility that can safe the environment for the future.

Tell us about your work experience

I work as a freelance researcher and in free time assist in my father's retail business where I experience the problem of plastic wrappers firsthand. We even discusses potential solutions for diapers.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

The legality of the retail business my father runs is a simple registration with local government to obtain business permit.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Ovonyoli!

It is great to see you in the challenge.

Are certain types of small format plastic packaging easier to reuse than others? Can we redesign small format plastic packaging to make it easier to reuse or use less plastic in the first place?

What changes to the current plastics system are needed to implement this idea at scale?

I noticed that you are based in Nairobi. Do you know that we have an OpenIDEO Kenya Chapter that is participating in the challenge?

Also, are you on LinkedIn? Have you considered joining the Circular Design Guide Group -

This group is about design & the circular economy. It's run jointly by IDEO and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Photo of Ovonyoli Wanjiku

Thanx kate. I am hoping for the best

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