“While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over-reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences. Around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute. Every year we use up to 5 trillion disposable plastic bags. In total, 50 percent of the plastic we use is single use.” (UN Environment, 2018)

2018-2019 Challenge Topic: Addressing the Issue of Global Plastic Waste

This year the GII challenge focuses on the issue of global plastic waste management. The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has outpaced that of almost every other manufactured material (National Geographic, 2018). Much of the plastic produced is designed for single-use and is being thrown away right after. As a result, plastic packaging accounts for about 50% of the plastic waste globally. The many benefits of plastic are undeniable. The material is cheap, lightweight, versatile in innumerable applications and easy to make. These same properties have led to a boom in the production of plastic over the past century and this trend is only projected to skyrockets over the next 10 to 15 years. However, durability and resistance to degrading make plastic materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate. On a global scale, with billions of metric tons of plastic being produced and accumulated, which we are already unable to cope with, we need to rethink the way we manufacture, use and dispose of plastics. Ultimately, addressing one of the most critical environmental burdens of our time will require concerted actions from “governments to regulate, businesses to innovate and individuals to act (UN Environment, 2018)”.

This year’s challenge sets out to re-think the ways in which we can achieve this. Global Idea students are encouraged to look at what governments, businesses, and individuals can achieve in order to curb the consumption of single-use plastics and improve plastic waste management. Students are encouraged to develop innovative technical, policy, education and/or socioeconomic development interventions to tackle plastic waste management issues. Detailed case studies will be provided for reference throughout the Global Ideas Institute program year. The schedule for the year will follow the general roadmap below.

Oct 30
4 – 6 PM

Introduction to Excessive Plastic Waste Accumulation

How does Excessive Plastic Waste Accumulation relate to you? Challenge Expert Q&A

Speaker: John Robinson

Interim Work Challenge Background Readings
Nov 13
4 – 6 PM

Challenge Overview

Causal Model Secondary Research Resources: Suzie Choi
Interim Work Secondary Research leveraging UofT Resources
Dec 4
4 – 6 PM

Case Studies: Success Stories

Interviews/Inquiry Interview Strategies:

Speaker: Angela Vemic

Interim Work Inquiry: Students research Excessive Plastic Waste Accumulation issues and interview solution-providers in their communities
Jan 15
4 – 6 PM

“Case Studies: Failed Solutions” – World Vision

Sharing Interview Insights Interview Teacher Share &

Exemplars of Devastating Fact Video

Interim Work Prototyping a Solution – Students Prepare a 1 min. video of their most Devastating Fact
Feb 12
4 – 6 PM


Devastating Fact Videos GII Q&A

Speaker: Joe Wong

Interim Work Idea Iteration – Consider perspectives after Devastating Fact, Revise & Prepare 1 min Pitch of Solution using the Business Model Canvas
Mar 5
4 – 6 PM

“Expert Panel Q&A”

1 min. Pitches With Experts & Students
Interim Work Idea Development using the Business Model Canvas
Mar 26
4 – 6 PM

“Behavioural Economics: Considering the User Perspective”

Mapping the Stakeholder Journey GII Q&A
Speaker: Dilip Soman
Interim Work  Idea Development using the Business Model Canvas

Polishing your Pitch Working Session – Mentors on Location

Pitch Prep Working Session
Interim Work Final Pitch/Final Symposium Deliverables
Apr 12
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
+light snacks and refreshments will be served at each monthly lecture