EPICS Engineering projects in community service

Countdown CES – Ghana Plastic Upcycling

Meeting time

Wednesday 7PM

Project description

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “without significant action, there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean, by weight, by 2050.” In Ghana, West Africa, only 2% of single-use plastic water bottles are recycled, and 73 million kilos of those bottles enter the environment annually. Insufficient waste management resources coupled with lacking knowledge of how to safely dispose of waste further amplifies the danger that plastic pollution poses to Ghanaian citizens and their environment (2019, Keesman). In addition to the rampant plastic pollution, many childern in Ghana lack access to school furniture which impacts their ability to learn. Countdown aims to tackle both these problems simultaneously.

The team decided that they would focus on school chairs made from recycled plastic after a feasibility assessment. Multiple designs and manufacturing methods were explored for the chair. The form of the function was thoroughly explored. Market research was conducted on seating preferences, features that were negotiable and non-negotiable, and the role of ergonomics. An ideation slideshow was created with various designs the team members accumulated over multiple weeks. The team has since finalized on a flat-pack design from which they will take inspiration from and improve upon. The team has also determined that they will use HDPE plastic for the seat back and seat. The rest of the design will be made from sustainably sourced wood. Additionally, Countdown CES recently partnered with Precious Plastic at ASU who will work with ZeroWaste ASU to serve as a supplier of the recycled plastic waste from ASU’s Tempe campus. A small scale prototype was made from wood and 3D printed plastic. Plans for this semester have the end goal of a full scale prototype.