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The Next Einstein COMPETITION ENTRY

ENTRY TITLE

Reduce, Reuse BUT DON'T RECYCLE!
IDEA BY: Robert Celik LOCATION: Canada CATEGORY: Environment/Sustainability

ENTRY TITLE

Reduce, Reuse BUT DON'T RECYCLE!
IDEA BY: Robert Celik
LOCATION: Canada
CATEGORY: Environment/Sustainability

ENTRY DESCRIPTION

We are taught that recycling is good for the planet but is it? Recycling is actually an indicator of a fundamental flaw in the way we consume and dispose of materials.

Single-use, disposable food packaging is an ‘innovation’ developed during WW2. It was intended for short term use on the battlefield and not for long term sustainability. Practically every food item we consume now has an associated waste product. This phenomenon was completely unheard of less than a century ago. As a result of increased packaging and limited landfill space, there has been a recent push to divert this additional waste to recycling centres. However, there is a huge misconception that increased recycling is doing good for the environment. But what is that ‘good’ being compared to? Are we evaluating ‘good’ by comparing it to indigenous circular economies or to the linear chain of single-use landfill disposal? Recycling is ironically a wasteful process that is extremely energy intensive, and for the most part unnecessary. It makes much more sense to fundamentally change the way food packaging is designed than to implement technology to mask our wasteful single-use habits. Inspiration for a solution came from standardized shipping containers that transformed the way we move products around the world. In the same way, modern day society is in need of standardized reusable containers that can be used to store and transport their food. Members can pay a small subscription fee to have access to the reusable containers and their associated services. They can fill the containers with bulk food at grocery stores and restaurants with zero wasted packaging. Stores could offer a discount to anyone picking up food with a designated reusable container. After they are used, the containers can then be dropped off at a local network of secure public bins to be washed and redistributed. This way people can conveniently use containers and not have to worry about the hassle of having to store and wash them.