Challenge 1

Plastic litter

The Challenge

How to engage and provide the fair retribution (as a reward) of individual or organized citizens in their efforts to participate in the plastic problem mitigation on coastal areas?

The challenge is two-fold and considers two end members coastlines. One from a developed state and one from a developing state. In both cases the contribution for costal states of the 3S “sea, sun and sand” tourism is quite significant, for instance in Portugal, it contributes with 6.8% to the national GDP. On its own, 3S Tourism will always generate a strong income for coastal communities and local businesses. This contribution is heavily dependent on the overall attractiveness of the most visited geographic areas which arises, amongst other factors, from the type and quality of the locally provided services, shoreline natural beauty and cleanness. In developed states, municipalities and other local authorities, spent a considerable amount of money (estimated 630 M€ per year in EU) to obtain clean sand and litter free beaches. Such cost could be diverted to other meaningful community benefits, should the citizens engage more. Besides the public spending in cleaning and maintenance, the engagement of local citizens in maintaining or improving the attractiveness of a given beach or shoreline section, by actively and repeatedly contributing to avoid litter accumulation and to collect marine litter and plastics would be of great educational, economical and environmental value. Citizens engagement is often promoted through volunteer clean up campaigns. The role played by these campaigns or by voluntary clean up/non litter discard behavior from individual citizens brings an economic value to the municipalities. Such value should be measured and channeled to other expressed and visible benefits to the coastal community and beach users. In developing states, the marine litter problem can reach dramatic proportions, which in certain cases render large beach sections unusable for 3S tourism. Furthermore, in these limiting cases, the visual impact of litter is the least problem, as litter affects the wellbeing of local citizens, impacts local fisheries (which often sustain the economy of those communities) and constitute in the worst cases a serious health problem for the populations. Such situation arises from the lack or shortage of heavy mechanical means to remove beach litter, lack of environmental education and society awareness to the litter problem and poor or lacking collection and/or treatment facilities. In such framework, citizen engagement in the clean-up process should be directly compensated by trading collected litter by goods and services. Such mechanism would motivate a proactive engagement of citizens, provide/reinforce the means of subsistence by allowing for a fair compensation to their efforts, benefit the environmental quality and health of beach ecosystems and educate society for the litter problem. The question then is how to promote and foster this involvement? How to reward the action of citizens that contribute to maintain or improve the quality, health and attractiveness of a given beach or shoreline section, by actively and repeatedly contributing to avoid litter accumulation and to collect marine litter and plastics?

Objectives

Case 1: Mitigation of beach litter in developed countries (reference Portugal)

Can a swap system be envisaged where, by monetarizing litter, you would get estimates of the bulk economic value of collected volumes or tons of litter per year at municipalities beaches, and expressing transparently its direct application in social or other environmental beneficial actions for the municipality population and/or beach users? If so, how to manage and disseminate litter data and corresponding economic results? Which technologies and business model could be setup to measure and manage the global action undertaken by citizens?

Case 2: Mitigation of beach litter in developing countries

Can a swap system be envisaged where, by monetarizing litter, you would get estimates of the economic value generated by the cumulative actions of individual citizens in collecting beach litter in order to provide a fair compensation to its efforts, trading collected litter by goods and services provided by public and/or private entities? If so, how to gather, manage and disseminate litter data and corresponding economic results? Which technologies and business model could be setup to reward the cumulative action undertaken by individual citizens?

Expected results:

The team can address solutions for one or both presented cases. The overall goal of the exercise is to present a 10 minute-pitch of your proposal focusing on:
  • A conceptual program expressing a business model for the selected case(s) (mandatory);
  • A creative scheme or device (case 2) to collect, measure (in volume or weight), individually contributed litter collected from the beach or its vicinities (optional);
  • A conceptual IT solution to manage and disseminate litter data and corresponding economic results to the communities (case 1) and/or individual citizens (case 2) (mandatory).