Updated: Sep 24
Disposables and pollution
The world sustains a continuous bombardment of disposable plastic bags. These are old news already: From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to your nearest landfill, to your favorite nature walk - The environment is awash with plastic bags.
Make no mistake: Plastic bags are a great packaging solution: Dirt cheap, strong, inert, impermeable - They serve their purpose well. Alas, these very same qualities also mean that they would not dissolve. At most, they will disintegrate into micro particles, bound to impregnate fisheries and entire marine food chains - killing fauna, or waiting until digested by humans.
Indeed, a growing number of countries set to ban LDPE shopping bags entirely. Meanwhile, billions of them are produced, given to consumers, and disposed of to the environment.
Local lawmakers have imposed Pigovian taxation on disposable bags, with a reported limited success: Authorities in Israel report that a $0.03 tax for LDPE shopping bags has resulted with 40% reduction in consumption.
The problem, however, lies in incentive alignment: Consumers and shop owners may be forced to pay and pass through the tax, supposedly to offset the externalities they impose on the environment.
They are never incentivized to collect the used bags, and put them to responsible disposable scheme.
The tax proceeds are presumably used to clean up the environment, but one may argue this may prove a Herculean task.
Enters container deposit schemes. By levying a set deposit on containers, to be reimbursed on recollection, authorities have managed to create the right incentives to people: Either to return containers to collection centers, or have other people to collect them from the street.
CashBAG® - Deposit Refund Machine
The CashBAG machine collects disposable plastic bags, refunding consumers by the deposit amount, via electronic payments or coupon printouts. Designed to stand in stores and urban venues, it is a front-loading, Fridge size machine.
The machine's front includes an inlet, and a Venturi coupled pipe gently sucks single bag at a time, as the consumer is notified by the quantity of bags absorbed, about of refund due on their behalf. Ingested bags are fed to a shredder, and the shreds fill up a big collection bag.
Embedded anti vandal features protect the mechanism and prevent fraud.
A value chain that makes sense
The central stake holder in the value chain is the store owner. They are the ones that operate the customer facing end of the system: From charging the deposit, to refunding it in their cashiers. They are the ones that purchase and operate the machines, while making profit through passing through deposit payments and transfer pricing for the shredded material, back for recycling.
The shredded material is used for insuring bags are extracted from the environment, and the store is compensated also by the deposit for the weight equivalent of each batch.
The concept was developed during the 24 hour long HackPack hackathon, held October 18-19 in JVP media quarter in Jerusalem.
The CashBAG team
Aviv Shwartz: Mechanical design
Dolev Geva: System engineering
Keren-Or Rosner: Marketing
Leonid Genshaft: Strategy
Osher Sahar: Graphic and UI design
Yoel Frischoff: Concept and leadership
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