Designing change for a living planet with WWF

Students pitch their sustainability ideas

Plastic consumption continues to be a big problem in 2019.

Waste that was incinerated or disposed in landfills increased by 0.9 million tonnes, which added up to a total of 24.9 million tonnes in 2016, according to Statistics Canada.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) hosted its second annual Hackathon event last March which focused on ways to reduce plastic waste.

Four George Brown College (GBC) students were selected from a diverse range of programs by the GBC organizer Stephanie Foster, who runs the Sustainability squad, a club at the college.

Kristin Yates, health and fitness student, has since joined the club and her team hopes to incorporate their idea with the college.

The GBC team’s proposal was to pop up vending machines that use a point system to encourage people to recycle their plastic. These units would be installed around the city and more specifically, GBC.

By inserting recycled bottles into the machine, you would collect points that would go towards select partnered stores.

With Earth Day events happening this spring it is calling attention to how much waste humans produce and how we can improve in reducing pollution.

Yates claimed that recycling is not that hard, but people don’t do it.

“I think one of the reasons why, is that it’s not as approachable as it could be, so you have that aspect of fun involved with it,” said Yates.

The points system for the vending machine would be organized through a mobile app that would give you the opportunity to donate points earned to various charities such as one dedicated to carbon off-setting.

“They came up with a very creative concept that I think we could even think about applying at George Brown one day,” said Foster.

Teams from colleges and universities across Ontario gathered to pitch their ideas in front of a panel that included Ron Soreanu, vice president of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola.

“Coca-Cola said that one of the biggest issues is that people are not recycling plastic properly,” said Yates.

Coca-Cola wants their plastic back because they would be cutting down on costs and reducing plastic waste according to her.

The goal of the GBC team’s idea would be to increase the amount of partnering stores to accommodate more points in hopes that it would breed more incentive for people to recycle and get involved with sustainability within their community.

Teams had an hour and a half to complete their pitch and then present it to the panel. The GBC team finalized their key points in the final minutes and Yates said this

“We all had a lot of adrenaline going on as this was happening because there’s such a limited time,” said Yates. She said the last 10 minutes of the event were very stressful, but exciting too.

Moving forward, the team wants to set up an art project in the foyer of the GBC waterfront campus and get people to build a structure made out of plastic they happen to be carrying. This would give them the opportunity to engage students and build awareness around their vending machine idea.


Designing change for a living planet with WWF