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Making Our Society Plastic-Free: The Story of P.NOT

Zero Waste appears to be a new trend among people who consider the environment. Zero Waste is a set of movements to minimize the use of disposable products, trying to make the volume of waste closer to zero. In Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), there is a startup company working with a strong environmental ethic that is attempting to spread a greener lifestyle. It is P.NOT, started in the SKKU business institute, Enactus SKK, that provides a multi-use tableware rental service. The Sungkyun Times (SKT) met the team members of P.NOT. Read on to find out more about what they do to help make a plastic-free life.

The Start of P.NOT

Q1. Please introduce yourself.

Hello. I am Kim Yun-seong, the project manager of P.NOT, and I am currently majoring in Business Administration.

Hi. I am Kwon Ye-jin, a member of P.NOT, and I currently major in Statistics.

Q2. Please introduce P.NOT and the meaning of the name.

P.NOT is short for Plastic Free NOT That Difficult and is also our company goal. The company aims to spread plastic free trends by providing a multi-use tableware rental service for a natural cultural life even without plastics. We are carrying out activities to improve awareness of the problems with plastic and alternatives to the problems. Also, we are constantly uploading posts related to matters on SNS such as Instagram.

Q3. How did you come to start P.NOT?

P.NOT Team in a Meeting (P.NOT)

Although we have different motivations, most of us have participated in environmental events at least once. Based on these experiences, we formed a consensus regarding the plastic problem sand decided to provide a multiuse tableware rental service. We analyzed the causes of plastic problems. According to Green Korea, a citizen’s group, each person uses about three disposable items at a public event, and about 36,800 items are discharged at one event. However, there are no alternatives other than disposable products for the institutions or event hosts. So, we thought that if we could provide a reasonable alternative to disposable products, we could reduce the use of plastic. We aim to spread plastic-free culture at events by providing fundamental alternatives rather than a one-off thing.

Beyond Business, with the Environment

Q4. How do you run the multi-use tableware rental service?

An Example of Service (P.NOT)

The most important factor in our service is to deliver multi-use tableware at the right place and at the time hosts want. Hosts do not need to wash the tableware, because we outsource it to a local commercial partnership company. All tableware is made with stainless steel and the cups are made with Tritan. These two materials are heat resistant, so there are no toxic ingredients like endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Considering the appearance factor, stainless steel tableware is generally well suited to most occasions.

Q5. What is special about the service of P.NOT?

First, we provide an eco-friendly alternative. We give possible alternatives for those looking for realistic solutions for an eco-friendly life, and we help to make ecofriendly brand images. Second, we deliver the tableware at the right place and right time, which is convenient forth hosts and is free from hassles. Lastly, we care very much about hygiene. Because there are people who think that multi-use tableware is less hygienic than disposables, we manage the tableware’s level of pollution by using an Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) measuring device. While the standard for edible use is under 200 RLU, and disposables are generally 50 RLU, the multi-use dishes of P.NOT are less than 10 RLU. In this way, we are strictly managing pollution levels.

P.NOT's Tableware Range (P.NOT)

Q6. How much plastic has been reduced through P.NOT’s service?

P.NOT launched its service in September last year and provided services nine times. Based on the amount of tableware provided, 1,045 disposables and plastic were saved. This is a simple figure of the tableware provided for the events, but we expect that the number of reduced plastics and disposables will be higher than measured when we consider that disposables tend to be abused and easily used. This is because multi-use tableware is used many times, but disposable products are used only once.

Q7. P.NOT is working on several SNS campaigns, such as Let’s P.NOT and the Paper Receipt Out Challenge. What is the purpose of these campaigns?

The previous Let’s P.NOT campaign was designed to spread awareness that there are many easy ways for people to practice plastic-free culture such as using multi-use cups or tumblers in cafes. For the campaign, 100 won was donated per Instagram post to the Seoul Federation for Environmental Movement and about 100 people participated.

Expanded from the plastic-free culture, the Paper Receipt Out Challenge was designed to let people know about Zero Waste. So, we worked together with the eco-friendly newsletter media ECOTY to deal with the problems of the environmental pollution and the harmfulness of paper receipts abused in everyday life. We wanted to show in a paradoxical way how easily a receipt made and discarded through this challenge. If people upload a photo of a paper receipt on Instagram with a hashtag, we archive it and plan to use the data.

Paper Receipt Out Challenge of P.NOT (P.NOT)

Q8. When was the proudest or most memorable moment you experienced while leading P.NOT?

It is rewarding when we receive good reviews such as, “It was more comfortable than I thought”, after customers have used the rental service? When we started out, it was questionable as to whether there would be a demand but after we started with half of the worries and anticipation, there were more demands than expected. Also, I am proud when our tableware is actually used. Most people who are interested in this service have awareness of environmental issues. I felt a sense of pride when these people were also happy to be able to host an event without disposable products. Also, when they said that they were satisfied because they could concentrate more on the contents of the event.

Q9. Have there been difficulties for the rental service since coronavirus disease2019 (COVID-19)? If there has, how did you overcome it?

Crowdfunding of P.NOT (P.NOT)

Surely there are differences compared to the past because the number of big events and gatherings decreased. However, we are also targeting small and medium-sized gatherings as well as big events because the place where people gather cannot disappear at all. Also, we have recently introduced an ATP measuring device to emphasize that we care about hygienic parts the most. Although disposable products that are used once and discarded may seem clean, we are trying to highlight the harmful effects of microplastics and environmental hormones on the human body and to suggest alternatives to people. As the number of service users decreased, we also contrived Eco bags and handkerchief funding as a way to avoid the personal use of disposable products. We planned to look for ways that individuals, not groups, can practice.

Next Stage of P.NOT

Q10.Are there any new plans that P.NOT is preparing?

To create plastic-free value, we are currently operating a multi-use tableware rental service to reduce the use of plastic. Now, we are preparing for a plan to reduce plasticwhen discarded. We are planning to make upcycling products that have commercial value by using waste plastics. Moreover, we are specifying the idea to reduce plastic waste in everyday life and make useful products. Recycling is important because although people use plastics inevitably and separate the garbage, the actual recycling rates are not that high. In the case of disposable cups, the recycling rate is 7%. So, we decided to deal with the discards of disposable products.

Q11.What is the vision and goal of P.NOT forth future?

As mentioned above, “plastic free, not that difficult “is our goal, so we will try to let people know that plastic-frees not difficult and that there are many solutions. In fact, the environmental perception about plastics in Korea is a little behind that of developed countries such as the United States (US) and countries in Europe. In order to draw people’s attention to this, we want to be a platform that can provide suggestions in various forms such as information, services, or products. Going one step further, we will make efforts to become a comprehensive Eco-friendly brand where people can meet zero waste values including plastic-free.

Q12.Any last words for Kingos?

Many people think that plastic-free or zero waste is cumbersome and inconvenient, but itis important to change prejudice. We hope that Kingos feel that a plastic-free life is not that difficult through us. Small efforts can result in creating a big effect. There are small things Kingos can do to help such as using tumblers at cafes or bringing eco bags to the supermarket. This is a way for the environment and also for yourself.

백주희  vb852@naver.com

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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