The unique aspect of the Plastikan Project is how we are starting fresh. Our project doesn’t have a history like many of the other projects being conducted by the GSIF students. Instead we are building machines and mapping our ecosystem entirely from scratch. We believe we have an idea of the five major stakeholders as of now, but along with the sustainable development class, we will continue to develop and refine our product ecosystem.
The first group of stakeholders are the students and faculty working on the project from Lehigh. Speaking on behalf of the students, we all have a desire to create tangible, positive change in the world and would like to learn in the process. We all joined GSIFs to have the chance to do this and are entirely invested in the success of the project, as we see the potential direct impact it could have to improve people’s lives. Those people are the members of the women’s cooperative that the machines will be used by in addition to their families. They comprise the second group of stakeholders. Living in the area they do, the women don’t have many chances to generate income for themselves and their families, they’re hoping to change this via this project. The third group we will be working with are the students and faculty at our partnering university in the Philippines: UPD. These students and faculty have the same motivations as we do, but have the added inspiration that this project will be assisting people within their own country. The fourth and fifth groups of stakeholders are slightly more tentative at this junction. They are the suppliers of the materials to recycle, and retailers or wholesalers of plastics at the back end. As of now the suppliers may be companies that have excess plastic they need to dispose of, and perhaps their image would benefit from donating the plastics to a group like the women’s co-op. It’s a little to early to say in regards to them. Similarly, we aren’t positive what the women will be creating with the machines, nor who would be interested in purchasing and then selling these products. We’ve considered creating bricks of plastic material that could be sold to more developed recycling plants to create different products. Meanwhile we’ve also considered making more artisanal products like chairs or jewelry and selling them to retail outlets in the Philippines.
Our project’s credibility will hopefully be exponentially enhanced in the coming semester. As mentioned previously, our status as an entirely new project puts us in a unique position. No one has heard of us because we haven’t accomplished anything yet. We intend to develop the machines fully and demonstrate that we understand how they work and their capabilities. This will likely be accomplished via a workshop/hackathon-esque event we plan to put on in the month of April, where students can come tinker with our machines and we’ll help to illustrate how they work. Connecting with the UPD team more and exchanging ideas with them will naturally validate us as well as we will show that we are considering many different avenues and willing to both offer and listen to many different opinions and approaches. We hope to get into contact with different stakeholders in the Philippines as well. Once we source our plastics and find potential retailers/wholesalers, getting into contact with them and coming to agreements will show that we have a proper ecosystem in place with a supply chain from the very bottom to the top as well.