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The Plastics Labeling and Advertising Act of 2017 [Revised for Ideas Phase]

Optimized communication methods for raising awareness of potential health effects and environmental impacts of certain plastics.

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Appropriating the existing Resin Identification Code, we hope to develop a more intuitive and legible global graphic standard. Most products only indicate information (i.e. nutritional value as implemented by the Nutrition Labelling and Education Act of 1990 in the US) related to the perishable contents of the container. Our aim is to readily indicate any information pertaining to the exterior containers, as well, to consumers. In societies that are growing more conscious of the environment, a holistic understanding of product life cycles is vital for its sustainability.

We have been drawing examples from the cigarette industry and its implementation of warning signs on products to properly inform consumers and deter them from purchasing tobacco products in the first place. During our research we found that health-warning labels on cigarette packs appeared 50 years ago due to The Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 in the US. In 2011, the FDA published the final rules to accompany color images that depict negative health consequences of smoking. There have been extensive studies regarding the effectiveness of pictorial warning labels. The conclusion is that bold visual images tended to be more impactful in terms of affecting consumer behaviour than having just text. Due to communication inequalities, the ability to understand and process health information differed within disadvantaged communities. As such, images helped get the message across to all demographics, including non-literate individuals. Positive effects of any social policy endeavors should equally benefit and apply to all racial and class groups. Consequently, the images will only have a similar effect if consumers accept plastic usage to be harmful to personal health or consider environmental protection to be as vital as human well-being.

It is a well-known fact that non-biodegradable plastics physically harm the oceans and its marine life. But for landlocked communities, these issues can be less visible and relatable. Plastics affect communities in various and widely different ways. For example in Delhi, one of few cities to ban all forms of disposable plastic, unchecked burning of plastics had been causing air pollution and potential health hazards. In Manila and Addis Ababa, trash landslides have taken many lives. Coordinating with local municipalities, we can also customize the visuals to address the concerns of the community. 

The developed graphic standards will have 3 tiers. 

Index Logos- Most basic form of the graphic standard that can be placed on any sized product including caps and straws. Simple number that indicates life cycle in units of years. Outer shape of icon indicates effects on human health or environment. 

Visuals- Similar to Tobacco warning labels, will boldly demonstrate the harsh effects of plastic packaging to deter certain purchases- if space of product and labels allow.

Material Composition Labels- Contains more specific information regarding material of packaging and its potential effects. Will be placed beside fact labels containing information of product within container. 

All images in submission were made by our team.

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

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

The idea aims to address all specific Use Cases and Personas, as well as addressing the larger international community at large. In doing so, we can prevent sachets from clogging drainage systems, energy gel packs from littering clean environments, film wrapping from suffocating wildlife, and other plastic waste from building up our landfills to dangerous levels. There are bound to be additional effects of plastic waste/usage that is specific to each community/instance.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Initially getting across the meaning of icons and what the information on the labels mean may be a potential challenge. As long as there is a clear and simple indication of their significance, we hope the simple icons and visuals will be readily understood. The labels will be effective only if consumers accept plastic usage to be harmful to personal health or consider environmental protection to be as vital as human well-being. This in turn will prompt companies to place information on packaging

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.

Actual label placement on various packaging will be important. Unless can have plastics labeling be a policy decision, will need volunteer products for legal implementation of labels. Keeping track of customer behavior and proving the effectiveness of said labels. Assessing trends in brands and if it does actually change customer attitudes to move away from plastic packaging will be crucial. Hopefully this will lead to a drop in plastic waste/usage and promote alternative packaging materials.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Drew examples from cigarette industry and its implementation of warning signs on products to properly inform consumers and deter them from purchasing tobacco products in the first place. FDA published the final rules to accompany images that depict negative consequences. Images helped get messages across to all demographics, including non-literate individuals. We hope to minimize communication inequalities so positive effects of social policy endeavors benefit all racial and class groups.

Tell us about your work experience

We're a group of creative thinkers with backgrounds in architecture. We've worked with various brands/startups and champion cross-disciplinary collaboration. We aim to go beyond our immediate interets

Please describe your legal and organizational structure



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