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Single Use Plastic Challenge
(2019/20)

The Single Use Plastic Challenge was the first challenge launched by CIC. It aimed to bring together members of the INSEAD community for a positive global impact by tackling three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG14: Life Below Water – issues that are becoming increasingly more pressing given the current global instability the world is facing.

Why Single Use Plastics?

While economically cheap and convenient, the cost that plastics impose on the planet is immense. Half of the 300 million tons of plastic we produce every year is for a single-use purpose. Mostly dumped into the ocean, causing serious suffering and irreparable damage to the quality and the diversity of marine life, while costing us the balance and harmony of our ecosystem. 

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The Challenge

The Challenge garnered significant enthusiasm and engagement, with 2,340 INSEAD participants from more than 90 countries taking part. Together, they reduced their annual consumption of plastics and that of their network by 4,500kg per year, or 3.7kg per person.

 

Weight reduction was largely in three categories – plastic bags, plastic bottles and wrappers.

Participating in the Challenge also created a noticeable shift in mindset and behaviours, with 73% of people more aware of ecological issues and a whopping 98% making lasting changes to their habits.

 

A total of 93% of the participants have indicated their interest to participate in the next challenge.

 

 

Through the network, the INSEAD community reached an additional 180,000 people on average. Extending the Challenge to just a fifth of all INSEAD alumni would reach an estimated 787,000 people.

Katell Le Goulven, Executive Director of the Hoffman Institute, said, This first Challenge showed the powerful force for good that the INSEAD Community can be when we come together and act with purpose towards stated goals. Keeping plastics out of our oceans is critical to safeguard the natural resources that underpin healthy economies and healthy societies. I look forward to working with the community on our next big Challenge and to involving more people for more impact.

INSEAD Community Impact Challenge co-founder and INSEAD alumnus Paolo Senes MBA’01J was encouraged by the results, adding, “This started as conversation between two people and grew through a core team of volunteers. It scaled through the tireless efforts of each new recruit engaging a few others from their class or country, one at a time. Dozens became hundreds and hundreds became thousands. This is the power of our INSEAD community. We did it once. We can do it again.

See the full report here, courtesy of Boston Consulting Group. Below are more highlights to share.

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How did the participants find the experience?

While we cared about how to achieve the CO2 reduction, we also asked our participants how they found the challenge as an experience. It was really encouraging that most participants have found it inspiring, necessary and motivating. 

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The biggest source of savings...

Based on the feedback of participants and the analysis of BCG, packet and wrappers, plastic bags and plastic bottles could be the biggest sources of reduction.

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More encouraging results...

One of the most encouraging feedback we had was the participants' intention to continue their new habits.

 

The challenge created a shift in mindsets and behaviours:

  • 80% indicated they became more aware of environmental issues following the challenge

  • 98% indicated they would stick with their new habits

Respondents' change in habits mainly went to using reusable bags (84%), using a drinking container (82%), and avoiding processed food (52%).

While participants could see the challenge of reducing the use of plastics, they also identified some incredible recommendations, for example

  • Government subsidies to potential solutions

  • Education on prevalence of plastics, impact on nature and ways to reduce

  • Government enforcements e.g. banning plastic bottles

  • Centralized platform to indicate where to buy products plastic free

  • Mobile app to track consumption / gamification

  • DIY solutions 

  • Small efforts in small groups (e.g. interest groups, local community)