Target Customers, Hypotheses, and What I Bring to My Team


Ten non-obvious assumptions about our target customers that need to be validated are the following:

  1. The women in our co-op are able to learn how to operate the plastic recycling machines that we will produce for them.
  2. The women are willing to learn how to operate these machines
  3. The members of the co-op in Manila will be able to gather the materials to produce the plastic goods.
  4. The women will have the knowledge and ability to be able to make a business from the tools we provide to them
  5. People in the Philippines will want to purchase up-cycled plastic materials.
  6. The women in the co-op will be able to come up with designs for potential products.
  7. The women will be able to outsource the creation of the injection molds for their products to a third party firm that will manufacture them for the co-op.
  8. The women will be able to conduct the business venture independently
  9. Recycled products will appeal to the markets in metro manila
  10. The plastics recycling organizations will want to supply the women’s co-op with plastic waste goods.

Ten hypotheses about our project that need to be tested during our fieldwork in the Philippines are the following:

  1. Middle aged women in Manila are able to learn to operate plastic recycling machines.
  2. Our machines can be operated by themselves
  3. Our machines can be maintained for a long period of time.
  4. The machines operate at a low energy cost that can be supported by the women’s co-op.
  5. The machines can use inputs such as raw plastic waste. (Plastic bottles, jugs, toys, etc.)
  6. The machines will be able to be fully operated by the women in the co-op center.
  7. The process that turns raw plastic waste into an upcycled plastic good will take less than a day.
  8. A large selection of different plastic waste materials can be effectively shredded down into easily melted pellets.
  9. The local religious organizations will be able to aid the women’s co-op in gathering plastic waste materials.
  10. The women’s co-op will be able to produce at least 5 different artisan plastic products from the machine process.


I think that I bring several different traits to my team. To start, I always try my best to maintain a positive attitude during team meetings and discussions, as well as try to keep the discussions and conversations light but effective. I believe that the tone of group meetings can play a very important role in engaging other team members in the discussion, as well as making the overall outcome of each discussion as effective and constructive as possible.

Additionally, I bring a willingness to adapt to new situations to my team. Throughout each week I am constantly thinking of and trying to implement new ideas into our project with the goal in mind of being as efficient and impactful as possible. I have no issues with shifting gears on something I may be working on, if that means that the project can make better progress. I think it vital for each team member to be able to juggle several tasks at the same time, as well as being able to evaluate what task needs the most attention at the moment and what tasks are not as high of a priority.

Third, I try to encourage excellence and growth in my teammates. It is extremely important for teams to encourage one another so as to ensure that each team member is working as productively as possible.

Additionally, I believe that I bring strong communication skills to my team project. I always make a strong effort to be clear when I speak to my team members and faculty mentors, as well as asking them to ask me to clarify my points when they are not as clear as they could be. When others are speaking, I do the same for them.

One weakness that I have noticed in myself as Project Plastikan has progressed is my lack of time management skills. Since our project team meets with the faculty mentors on Mondays at noon and the student team meets without the faculty members on Sunday night, I sometimes have trouble keeping my focus on the project in the middle of the week when Plastikan may not be the first thing on my mind. To combat this, I have begun setting reminders in my phone to remind myself to try to make progress on the project no matter how small the progress may be. Additionally, I try to set aside a certain amount of time each day to evaluate my personal progress and efficiency as it relates to the results of the project.

IRB Approvals and Developing a Logic Model

Project Plastikan does not require IRB approval, since the IRB board grants approval for research that studies human subjects. While our team’s research does involve humans, we are not directly studying them the way that say one of the medical care project teams may study humans for their research. Our project research will not be studying the women in the women’s co-op in Metro Manila, but instead will be focused on teaching these women how to use the machines, and will also be focused on invoking a creative and innovative spirit in the members of the co-op. The research that our team will be doing is more closely an investigation of the overall environment of the plastics pollution and waste crisis in both the world and the local area of Metro Manila. Additionally, our research is also focused on developing a comprehensive paper on the different types of recyclable plastics, their ability to be recycled as it pertains to our specific recycling process, and the possible products that can be produced using our specific machines. Put simply, the second branch of our research is focused on answering the question “what can we make with x plastics and y machines?”

Our team’s research is oriented to a much more material-based subject matter, but will also involve collaborating with multiple groups and organizations. Like most other things, it is possible that the goals and trajectories of Project Plastikan may evolve as time goes on, and in such a situation it’s possible that our team may wish to change our research deliverable and generate a paper on our experiences with attempting to effectively lead a workshop with middle aged women and what methods for educating them in a technical field are most effective and efficient. In this case, it would be important to seek the approval of the IRB, as this paper would require closely studying the women in the co-op and how they learn best. The women would play a much closer role to being subjects in a study, rather than serving as individuals who are motivated to learn about plastic recycling machines and to begin using their creativity and innovation skills to produce artisan goods or building materials to generate an income. An issue with this scenario is that as our team already has a plethora of things that we wish to accomplish in what little time we have to achieve all of our goals, that adding an additional area of research may prove to spread ourselves too thin to effectively accomplish any of our goals. However, as the project grows and matures, a possible research paper on the methods that are most effective in educating middle aged women in a technical process may be worthwhile to publish and show outside groups and organizations that we are doing tangible work.

The first element of the Project Plastikan logic model is the various inputs that the project requires. The first clear input is the source of recyclable plastics that will be put through the production process of the machines that we will build and will be eventually turned into the artisanal and industrial goods that can be sold from the women’s co-op. The other inputs to the venture will be the actual humans behind the operations of the machines- the members of the women’s co-op. These middle aged women will supply the human capital that will operate the machines and sell the goods that are produced.

The second element of the Project Plastikan logic model is the activities that will go on- the end goal is for these activities to be the research that goes into building the system from the ground up, as well as the actual production processes. The production process will include the entire cycle of taking in the plastic waste and using our four machines (extruder, compressor, shredder, and injection molder) to generate our output products. For our research, the activities will include working closely with the sustainable development team, the UPD teams, and additional local stakeholders in the plastics recycling arena to further optimize and enhance the process that we are laying out for the women’s co-op. Additionally, the second branch of the team’s research is to create the study on what can be made with a given array of plastics and our machines.

The outputs of the Project Plastikan come in two flavors- recycled plastic products in the form of artisanal goods and also in the form of industrial building materials. The artisan goods can be sold locally and internationally to buyers to earn a direct income for the members of the women’s co-op, and the industrial goods can be sold to local firms and organizations as stock materials for building and other industrial needs.

The last step of our logic model is the outcome as a result of the outputs. This aspect has two dimensions as well: to create an easily replicating process that will bit by bit put  a dent in the overall plastic recycling crisis in the philippines and in the world as a whole. Additionally, the second outcome of the project is to provide the members of the co-op with a steady source of income, thus empowering the women there by allowing them to harness their own creativity and innovation to generate income for themselves while helping the sustainable development of the local area.