The plastics cloud with SAP: research reports

A collaborative project to fight plastic pollution.

Climate Change
Design Thinking

by Daniel Boettcher — May 31, 2019

On the 21st of September, The Plastics Cloud was launched at London Design Festival. It is an idea generated by a unique collaboration between one of the world’s largest software companies, SAP, and the Design Thinkers Academy London. Now you can learn all about The Plastics Cloud, as we make the information behind the project public.

It all started with new ethnographic research, looking at how citizen consumers use plastics. We used ethnography as a qualitative research method to investigate people’s real needs, pain points and experiences. This user-centred research acted as the catalyst and inspiration behind the entire project, engaging with citizens to truly understand the problem in front of us.

Download the Ethnographic Research Report

Fifteen major companies then came together and joined a three-day design sprint to try and tackle the problem. Its purpose was to enable innovators from industry, design and technology to work together in an intense design sprint to develop prototype products and services based on the ethnographic research.

The brief:

“How can we harness the appetite among UK citizen-consumers for swift action on plastic waste and pollution to deliver fresh, impactful and systemic solutions?”

The project ran on a wave of momentum and enthusiasm, creating a wide range of unique and meaningful solutions over a very small time period. You are now able to access this information. Read an in-depth report about the design sprint and how the ethnographic research was used to create tangible results.

Download the Plastics Challenge Design Sprint Report

At the end of the sprint the teams pitched their results to a grand jury. The ideas had come about through collaboration, help from our expert coaches and the high intensity idea generation and refinement, that comes with design thinking. The results: three prototypes, which work together to form The Plastics Cloud.

  • Paycup – This solution allows for a pay chip to be added to any reusable mug. This makes the reusable mug more precious to the individual, incentivising them to carry and reuse the mug, adding convenience when paying, and could be integrated with various loyalty cards. See SAP’s tweet about the Paycup here.
  • Rewards 4 ChangeReward 4 Change is a plastics education and rewards programme that will be embedded into existing rewards programmes. The API (application programming interface) uses a traffic light system for a product’s plastic impact. It awards points for green and amber products, and provides education and alternatives for red products. It creates a simple way to prompt behaviour change around plastics in existing well-used reward schemes.
  • RecycleMateRecycleMate tells you exactly what can and can’t be recycled, where you are. Using a phone’s camera and image recognition technology, RecycleMate identifies the type of plastic and gives the consumer clear guidance on how to dispose of it.

The London Design Festival

As prototypes went in to production stage, momentum around the project continued to grow. This led us to presenting The Plastics Cloud at the London Design Festival on 21st September. The event was hosted by Stephen Jamieson, head of SAP Leonardo, David Kester, founder of Design Thinkers Academy London, and Sophie Thomas, sustainability designer and founder of Thomas Matthews.

It included a panel discussion chaired by Julie Hill, chair of WRAP, featuring representatives from Sainsbury’s, Pret a Manger, Unilever, #2MinuteBeachClean, Suez and DS Smith. This was then followed by another presentation and discussion as part of the Global Design Forum.

Going forward, SAP have now committed to piloting the project, as well as becoming a member of the UK Plastic Pact.

Thanks to all who worked on and supported the project. The Plastics Cloud is continuing to grow in momentum and potential. We will continue to inform you on all the updates with the project and how it develops into the future.

"*" indicates required fields

Drop files here or
Max. file size: 10 MB, Max. files: 5.
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.