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CarryOn

Investigating NYC's waste streams

Plastic bags pose a significant problem around the world and particularly in densely populated areas like NYC. In addition to littering streets, clogging drains and sewers, and costing the city millions of dollars every year, disposable carryout bags also have a significant impact on wildlife and the environment.

CarryOn is a system aiming to facilitate a transition towards a full ban. It includes a comprehensive overview of the situation in NYC, considering all the major stakeholders involved, the challenges affecting them, and their implication in the transition. The infographic provides the necessary information for decision makers and other parties involved to consider alternative solutions beyond a simple fee on bags.

Exploring New York

The project started with the exploration of NYC through four of its boroughs. The aspect of the city that struck us most was the amount of trash present everywhere and the ways in which it was disposed of, which led us to focus on the mobility of waste and its management. Plastic bags were identified as one of the most recurring items in public trash cans and in the streets. This highlighted the convenient fast-paced "to-go" culture deeply rooted in the NYC lifestyle.

Our field research involved multiple interviews with supermarket managers and customers in different parts of Brooklyn. We also attended a public hearing at the City Council discussing the possible implementation of a 10¢ fee on plastic bags. These enabled us to identify critical insight for the development and refinement of the project outcomes.

The initiative

The CarryOn initiative is based on four main concepts.
1. A law imposing a 5¢ fee on disposable carryout bags.
2. The CarryOn bag, a practical reusable bag that would be distributed across the city.
3. A 5% discount in partner shops and supermarkets for customers using the CarryOn bag.
4. An education campaign, which will raise awareness regarding the current situation and the need for change, and introduce the habit of reuse.

A comprehensive system

The physical outcome of the project is an infographics which provides the necessary information for decision makers and other parties involved to consider an alternative solution beyond a simple fee on bags. The document encapsulates the details of the proposal, considering the involvement of each principal stakeholder, the challenges affecting them, and their implication in the initiative. The stakeholders are separated in three categories, upstream, midstream and downstream, depending on the level at which they are involved in the life of a disposable carryout bag.

Project in collaboration with Gabriel Brückner.
2014 | Pratt Institute