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New frontiers in social innovation research: social innovation management for bioplastics

Grant number: 19/02576-3
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: December 01, 2019 - November 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Cooperation agreement: Trans-Atlantic Platform for the Social Sciences and Humanities
Principal researcher:Sandra Andrea Cruz
Grantee:Sandra Andrea Cruz
Principal researcher abroad: Tammara Soma
Institution abroad: Simon Fraser University, Canada
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Exatas e de Tecnologia (CCET). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers: Barbara Ocicka ; Benny Eko Tjahjono ; Grazyna Wieteska ; Rafaela Francisconi Gutierrez Pepinelli
Associated scholarship(s):20/04239-1 - The social impacts of the bio-based food packaging supply chain in São Paulo State, BP.PD

Abstract

Increasing concerns over the environmental impact of plastic single-use packaging have reached a critical juncture. Most recently, Mumbai-one the largest city in India-implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags, plastic cups and plastic bottles, with a stiff penalty of fine (5000 rupee) or up to three months in jail for those vendors caught selling these products. From a corporate initiative, IKEA, has recently adopted biodegradable packaging made from mycelium (mushroom), which mimics the texture of styrofoam. With growing awareness of the negative environmental impacts of petroleum-based packaging, the trend towards adopting bio-based products has increased. Currently, the highest demand for bio-based packaging is situated within the food industry. In a recent meeting of the World Economic Forum, it is claimed that biodegradable packaging is good for the economy and the environment. However, while bio-based packaging may be seen as a "disruptive innovation", there is a lack of studies exploring the social and environmental implications of this product. For example, bioplastic packaging is hard to distinguish from its plastic counterpart, resulting in contamination and waste management issues at a municipal level. As such, the adoption of this product becomes a "wicked problem." To address this issue, four research partners consisting of UK, Canada, Brazil and Poland, will implement four collaborative social innovation labs. UK and Poland will focus on product innovation, while Canada and Brazil will focus on the social and environmental impacts of biodegradable food packaging. A social innovation methodology is critical to better understand how bio-based packaging innovation will impact the environment and diverse stakeholders across the supply chain, especially as it relates to food security, waste infrastructure, formal and informal waste collectors, consumers, vendors, food producers, and policy makers. (AU)

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