“If bottles were made of gold, nobody would litter them in nature” – Eric Schaffner
The damage that plastics can do to the environment is well documented. One million plastic bottles are produced a minute around the globe and 8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, killing both plant and sea life. Now, research at the University of Hull and Hull York Medical School has found plastics, for the first time, deep in the lungs of living people, where they were not expected. The most common particles have been found to be polypropylene, used in plastic packaging and pipes, and PET, used in bottles. They are breathed in and ingested in food and water, and according to the lead researcher, Laura Sadofsky, they “did not expect to find the highest number of particles in the lower regions of the lungs” or particles of the sizes they found. Although the impact on human health is not yet known the particles are known to damage human cells in the laboratory. So, there is a distinct possibility that apart from damaging the planet, plastic is damaging the health and life chances of millions of innocent people.
In an attempt to address the problem efforts are being made to find and develop alternatives (Bili London, Marina Tex, Notpla). However, there is another possible solution, namely breaking the linear make, use, and waste model that has been in existence since the industrial revolution. While measures are being taken to recycle plastics (Gjenge Makers and Thermal Compaction Group), according to Eric Schaffner, the founder of ZeLoop, the issue is not about the material but how it is used and disposed of. He claims that if we think about reusing, recycling, rethinking and reducing the use of plastic, it could be used endlessly in a loop. The problem is plastics are everywhere and people do not place a value on them so there is no incentive for consumers to do anything other than litter the environment. Changing this pattern of behaviour will require a new mindset as well as behavioural change, and this is where ZeLoop can help.
Founded in 2019 ZeLoop is a mobile Application (app) that guides and motivates consumers with respect to waste collection, rewards them using a crypto currency and prizes, and creates a community of likeminded people who are part of the solution for a litter-free healthier world. Its mission is “to bring together every individual on earth in a mutual effort to reduce plastic littering and bring a significant impact on the health of our world, nature and our fellow beings”. It does this through the ZeLoop app which uses their in-house blockchain reward engine to reward consumers who bring used plastic bottles to collection points. In addition there is
- ZeLoop Impact: a free rewards platform that gets30,000+ stores to support clean-up charities, at no extra cost, when members shop online and
- ZeLoop Academy: a learning programme that is available to corporate employees and their families
Apart from wanting to save the planet, Schaffner wants the circular economy to be fun as he wants everybody to be involved not just those who care about the planet now. While ZeLoop is very much about addressing SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being) he believes “our health is in our own hands”. However, he also believes in technology and finding new, innovative ways of doing things, so ZeLoop also addresses SDG9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). As a result it is helping to create Sustainable Cities and Communities (11) and Responsible Consumption and Production (12), while at the same time it is addressing SDGs 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life below Water) and 15 (Life on Land), as well as forming Partnerships for the Goals (17). It is an enterprise that is the volume of the plastic having been calculated using Artificial Intelligence helping to ensure profit, people and planet are in harmony.
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