The first Expert meet-up was a great success. The event was part of the Social Tech Tour organized by research institute De Waag; a series of site visits to innovative, tech-enabled social enterprises. It was the first meet-up in the series of events on our research project “van Plestik, your own plastic“.
From all over the city, experts in the field of circular design came together to exchange ideas. Among the experts were Fabeel Butt (HEMA), Bob Vos (Polimeer) and Charissa Koolen (Institute for Sustainable Packaging). The first edition was all about the following question:
How do we maximize the impact of small sustainable initiatives such as vanPlestik?
The value of plastic
After all experts had arrived, Socrates Schouten, head of Commons Lab of the Waag, opened the evening with a short introduction about the Social Tech Tour. After Socrates had introduced himself, it was time for the rest of the group to briefly tell something about themselves. Not only did all experts have to share their name and job title, but also had to tell the group about the only plastic item they would never want to get rid of. For example, Nout would never throw away a small plastic dinosaur that he got from his girlfriend during one of their first dates. This proved that plastic can certainly be of great value for people and is more than just a disposable material.
From a bad idea to a brilliant solution
After this introduction, Nout told the group of experts all about the origin of vanPlestik and the ‘vanPlestik, your own plastic‘ project. Then Sam took over with a tour through the workshop. After the tour it was time to get started with a brainstorm. The experts were divided into three groups: longterm partnerships, (circular) business modelling or communication / awareness.
Each group formulated a problem statement from a different angle via the reversed brainstorming technique. Instead of coming up with solutions for a problem, this technique is ought to create ideas to make the problem worse. This results in absurd plans that stimulate the creativity of the participants. By the means of short sketches of ten seconds each group came to their ‘worst idea’. Afterwards this idea was inverted into a good idea, that was pitched to the entire group of experts.
So, what brilliant solutions did the experts come up with?
Let’s return to the main question of the evening; ‘How do we maximize the impact of small sustainable initiatives such as vanPlestik?’ With the imput of the experts, we have gotten a little closer to answering this question. For instance, during the brainstorming session, the communication / awareness group came to the conclusion that “placing someone on the corner of the street that shouts to people that plastic is of great value” is a bad idea. A no brainer, because it’s impossible to reach a big and targeted audience this way. The idea was therefore converted into a more realistic plan. The experts in this group recommend vanPlestik to collaborate with partners with a large following. “Create interactive campaigns” was their advice. Perhaps aimed at children, because those are the ones who will determine the future.
In addition, the group ‘longterm partnerships’ came up with the idea for a consumer loyalty program to create more interaction with the customer. Consumers or businesses could contribute their waste to vanPlestik and in return get recycled products made from their waste. Conclusion: enough food for thought for us!
Want to be a part of the next Expert meet-up?
Working together with the experts has been really inspiring and gave us a lot of new insights. We are already looking forward to the next Expert meet-up, which will take place in June. Do you consider yourself an expert in the field of circular design or do you want to become one? Keep an eye on our social media channels for more details!