As lockdown happens in Singapore, the inevitable reliance on delivery services, to reduce the need to go out, has increased the amount of packaging waste. That's just part and... parcel of the new normal. Here is where Package Pals comes in.
Package Pals is a circular packaging initiative! They aim to reduce e-commerce packaging waste through the collecting of packaging from consumers, and education and outreach in order to achieve a wasteless postal service system.
The problem of packaging in Singapore
The plastic envelopes that comes from deliveries are not recyclable. What Package Pals does is to collect them and redistribute them back to businesses who have green packaging needs.
In order to maximise their impact, they have been doing educational outreach programs to help spread awareness of the issue of packaging waste.
Even though businesses are shifting to biodegradable or compostable packaging, Singapore still lacks facilities to mass compost and biodegradable such packaging as they need industrial facilities to fully compost them.
Growth and Journey
The initiative is consistently growing. Initially they didn't have educational outreach workshops in mind but they have been open to such ideas in the spirit of being not afraid to try new things. Mostly because they realised that they get to learn a lot even if they fail.
One important aspect is the support they have received by just being open enough to reach out to environmental and thrift groups which someone actually sent them a three-page PDF filled with feedback and suggestions during their market research phase. Such support has been heartening to them as they haven't even started Package Pals officially.
Some great resources that keep them inspired!
Partnering with Upcircle.App
As the circular economy thrives on working together, Package Pals has partnered up with Upcircle.app, by the founder Wee Leng, which Rachel describes it as "kind of like Kickstarter but for objects" where people can donate materials to artists that want to do a certain project such as with upcycled glass and there will be a tracker for everyone to follow.
Here are some great initiatives, resources, and organisations mentioned made by Package Pals:
Also, the articles that have mentioned Package Pals if you want to know more about them.
The Straits Times feature: Covid-19 heroes: Single-use packaging gets a new lease of life
CNA938: Climate Future – Package Pals
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00:33 What is Package Pals?
01:10 Introduction by Rachel Lee and Rachel Han
01:42 What does Package Pals do?
02:22 How Package Pals started during the Circuit Breaker
03:38 Why poly mailers arent recyclable
04:45 The dynamics of the team
07:50 Starting the logistics and drop off points despite happening during Circuit Breaker
09:10 Their development of the target audiences and growing through word of mouth
10:48 Business model, pricing, grant, fundraising, and educational talks
12:15 Their future goals such as take-back programs
13:10 Issue of Singapore's lack of facilities dealing with biodegradable or compostable packaging
14:20 Possibility of redesign of poly mailers to help with reusage
15:45 Limitations of distribution second-hand packaging and overcoming them
17:15 How did volunteers find them
19:00 Their volunteers' generated content
21:30 Their decentralised meet-ups with volunteers
22:40 Resonating with the volunteers and letting them facilitate with the sorting
23:35 Educational groups targeting young adults
25:00 Reasons for taking a gap year
28:00 Volunteers helping them out with tech to help with collection
28:35 Real life experiences helping them make educated choices
29:50 Technology, data analytics, and resource matching sheet helping them be efficient
32:30 Dealing with wish recycling
33:30 Serendipity and letting themselves try new things such as working with organisations
37:30 Sources of inspiration and how they take care of themselves while running many initiatives
43:30 Shoutout to Upcircle.app that they are partnering with: A kickstarter for projects. Eco Youth Collective. Youth Action Challenge.
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