Poly-sea: How might we make recycling plastic easier for the consumer?

Suma Balaram, a student in the MS Strategic Design and Management program at Parsons is putting together a co-creation workshop for her final year project. Her project aims at reducing the amount of plastic pollution entering our oceans. She is reaching out to designers and change-makers who are interested in learning more about her project and help ideate to create a solution that reduces this problem.

Co-creation Workshop

Date: 6th March 2017Time: 3:30pm - 5:30pmLocation: 79 5th Ave. Room 1618 


Introduction to Poly-sea by Suma Balaram(3:45 pm to 4:10 pm)

  • Inspiration for this project
  • Research and findings
  • Miscommunication of current recycling symbols
  • Altering those symbols so everyone in the recycling process understands them
  • What could the social impact of that be?
  • How might we implement change this current system of recycling?

Question and Answers(4:15 pm to 4:45 pm)

  • Feedback and suggestions
  • Scalability and implementation of this proposal
  • Social impact and viability of the concept

Constructive Feedback and learning from everyone in the room!(4:50 pm to 5:30 pm)

  • Brainstorming session
  • Create an ideation wall with feedback and suggestions

RSVP at Eventbrite About Poly-seaWe use plastic in packaging everyday.Its disposable nature makes it an easier choice.Its transparent texture makes it more appealing.Its durability makes it protect moisture content.However, its chemical properties make it hard to break down.These long lasting qualities of plastic may be momentarily beneficial to us, but they are causing serious havoc to the environment. Research shows that plastic only starts degrading after 700 years and will not fully degrade till approximately 1000 years from now. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet.All this trash that we create gets thrown away – but have you ever wondered where it actually goes? More than 8 million tons of it enters our oceans each year that is poisoning the marine ecosystem. More marine life species are endangered today than ever before, and a lot of them are close to or if not already extinct.The global plastic symbols on packaging are indicators for the people at the end of the loop – the ones who find the waste and are trying to recycle it. These symbols are complex for a consumer to understand, as they do not communicate what exactly they do. The small numbers in the middle of the recycle sign determine what type of plastic it is for its segregation.Out of the seven plastic materials that are produced, four can be recycled. The three that cannot be recycled are: PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride (#3), Polystyrene (#6) and Other types of plastic or mixed plastic (#7). The recycle sign around the numbers makes it seem like it is possible, where as in reality it isn’t.Poly-sea looks into the future of re-designing plastic by creating a systemic change in the mindset of people. If we create products that have been packaged, labeled and created responsibly using signage that indicates exactly how to recycle the product – it would be a small step towards shortening the life of this big problem. To learn more about Poly-sea, contact Suma Balaram (balas624@newschool.edu)This project is supported by:The Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School, The 5 Gyres Institute and Sure We Can.