How might we develop a sustainable service system that enables CERN as well as potential industries to leverage the UN’s sustainable development goals to address the biggest Microplastic pollution issue in the environment facing us today?
My Role /
In the project, my duties were to define the research plan, from setting goals and objectives, conducting qualitative interviews with users and key stakeholders, creating the research materials, synthesising the data gathered in the field research, uncovering key insights and opportunities areas and eventually creating digital service prototypes and the business model.
Research insight report
Concept system and stakeholder map
In collaboration with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, the birthplace of the World Wide Web and the Large Hadron Collider, to examine how service design will use the most exciting technologies to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will emerge from the most respected scientific research centres. The topic attracted me and my teammate, is the issue of microplastic.
Our challenge is to seek to develop innovative service propositions for the future that enable CERN's disruptive technologies, and to work with potential industries such as the fashion industry to leverage the UN's Sustainable Development Goals to transform the solution to the biggest problem facing us and the environment as a whole today - microplastics - within the context of economic and social sustainability. In terms of the project's big moves, Corallo not only found design interventions in the public domain, but also used behavior change theory to increase customer perceptions.
During the research phase of the project, a double-diamond design approach was used to identify a sustainable design opportunity based on issues identified during benchmarking studies, user interviews, and expert meetings to explore where technology trends overlap with human needs. Our team worked with several excellent scientists from CERN to complete this project. Set a precedent for the transfer and application of design thinking knowledge to world-class research centers.
To validate the design proposition and test the concept, a prototype video was created as low-fidelity validation material, and a separate quick face-to-face test was conducted with experts and potential customers from potential industries and technical parties. After these sessions, we were able to map out the entire integrated system and user journey, and iterate on the value proposition.
Methodology and Design Process
@ The Guardian, 2017
Research Insights and Highlights
Watch the video to understand the research insights of microplastics issue
Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic particles that exist in our surroundings and whose size is defined as less than 5 mm in diameter. As a result, it's hard to get noticed and doesn't make it into the current plastic recycling system.
These tiny particles come from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing and industrial processes, and enter the ocean every year, even damaging our health through the food chain. This would be a big hassle because these tiny pieces of plastic don't break down for many years, and it's also possible to achieve toxins attached to them because wild animals would be harmed by eating them.
Wastewater treatment panels are the last stop on the microplastic journey before entering the ocean, which is, it is an important point of origin for the discharge of microplastic particles and fibers into the environment. At the same time, it can be detected in sewage sludge, causing contamination of landfills.
More than 98% of the microplastics collected (including microfiber, polyester, polyethylene, etc.) can be recycled for the fashion industry. As a result, we learned that the fashion industry is particularly interested in joining the business, as they can gain access to reusable materials, as well as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and brand image.
extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste as less than 5 mm in diameter.
The definition of microplastic
Current ecosystem of microplastics
Ideation process- Sprint workshop
How might we create a technology-based service system to bridge the needs of the fashion industry and public sector in order to fully close the loop of the microplastic recycling circle?
NOUN [mass noun]
Tiny bits of plastic measuring 0.1μm - 5mm
Design Solution- Corallo
Watch the video to understand how does Corallo work
Corallo is a brand new recycling system service that aims to create a new circular economy of microplastics by creating a restorative cycle that minimises the harmful effects of microplastics on the entire environment, humans and other organisms through collaboration and innovation between the fashion industry and the public sector, such as sewage treatment boards.
The service ecosystem can collect the tiny microplastics to the wastewater treatment plant and then use the collected microplastics as material to make new products by using CERN's emerging technology, as the recycled microplastics are suitable for use in the production of the main fabric of the garment from the recycled microplastic system. In addition, by reconnecting the product line with the fashion industry, it can evoke environmental awareness and increase customer engagement. We see a win-win situation for business opportunities and ecology.
Current Ecosystem of Microplastics
System map of Corallo
What are the social implications of this topic?
Corallo believes that sustainable systems services can scale the commercial potential. At the same time, we noted in our study that if we take 10% of the microplastics from wastewater treatment plants in Europe and North America, it contributes 26.8 million pounds of microplastics to the fashion industry each year. This allows the micro actions to have a macro impact on the entire environment.
Reinventing the plastic recycling system in an effort to create business value for sustainable service design. Corallo fully closes the recycling system for the fashion industry and the public sector. There are numerous reports and evidence that fashion brands such as H&M, Adidas, Patagonia, G-Star RAW and others have started recycling plastic waste as a new material for their products. For example, H&M's Conscious Exclusive has partnered with the Hong Kong Institute of Textile and Apparel to develop technology to recycle textile-blended garments into new ones. This is strong evidence that Corallo is an ethical system service that responds to the times.
The impact of Corallo for the society, economy and environment
WIP Show in RCA - Do you know people who eat seafood might ingest up to 11000 tiny plastic every year.
We are honoured to have been invited to speak on the theme of sustainable development
Working at CERN's Innovation Centre and their knowledge transfer team (IdeaSquare), applying service design techniques to create new propositions, was a really exciting task for us. However, since we need to gain scientific knowledge from brilliant scientists in such a short period of time, how to translate the "engineering language" into a "service design language", working with these world class elites and expecting to realize all the design possibilities in real society is the biggest challenge. We conducted two days of expert interviews at CERN and collected the results in London afterwards. The experts were friendly, but they were not familiar with the service design approach and were always curious about what they could do to get involved and contribute to the project. What this project has taught me is this. It is more efficient and powerful to organize a participatory design focus group workshop with all the experts invited. Encouraging conversation in the space would be a great way to explore the future of design. I think there are two benefits to this approach.
1. A focus group format that encourages everyone to share their expertise with others. Therefore, as researchers who design projects, we can gain technical knowledge in a short period of time. At the same time, we can import the basics of service design and related methods into them so that they know how to collaborate on the project.
2. We can leverage technology to build design teams, participate in projects with online collaborative discussion tools, conduct workshops and design concept testing on platform. There are now more and more online tools to help work remotely, and we can use this to build virtual teams that allow all people to provide feedback anytime, anywhere.