Topic: Waste created by JUUL products (focus on “pods”).
[ Material systems –> Manufacturing –> Recycling –> Extended Product Responsibility]
Proposed Solution: To create an app-based recycling service that will minimize and eventually remove heavy and increasing trash flow from JUUL products, specifically their “pods”, which are refillable and yet marketed to be thrown away.
It’s no secret to teenagers and adults alike that there is an e-cigarette epidemic occurring globally, one specifically inflated by the use of the JUUL, whose sales represent 72% of the ever-booming e-cigarette market. While JUUL has recently announced a series of strict changes in sales policies and marketing that will completely restrict the underage purchasing of all JUUL products, the issue still remains of the trash that accumulates from the products disposable nicotine “pods”.
During my first semester at Parsons, I have seen JUUL usage occur everywhere from classrooms, to common spaces, to dorm halls. Equally so, I have seen the litter that accumulates from these e-cigarettes, specifically discarded pods, everywhere from the library floors, to toilets and sinks. While this issue of pod disposal certainly exists within The New School, it is anything but limited to our school community. As of this year, JUUL pods alone are estimated to create an approximate 18 million pieces of new trash each month. That’s right, 18 million pieces of new trash going straight to the landfill every 30 days – and those are just the pods that make it in to trash cans.
It was in noticing the high usage and littering of JUUL products at The New School that I was inspired to create PodCycle. PodCycle is an ethical recycling service for JUUL pods which implements their ability to be refilled, in tandem with typical melt-down recycling. Pods are primarily made of heat resistant, food-grade plastics, and contain a stainless steel vapor path, and a nichrome coil heater, which should not be reused and will be replaced in recycling. One of the distinguishing features of PodCycle is that it pairs with an app. The app provides each user with a custom profile and a simple interface through which they can easily locate recycle stations and drop off waste from their JUULs for safe, sustainable disposal. The app and service operate through a fleet of self-sustaining, solar-powered street stations – very similar to the already existing and successfully installed/manufactured LinkNYC Public Wi-Fi kiosks, but with solar power and a better cause.
The PodCycle service is free of charge to all users. My company is able to do this partially thanks digital advertisements that will exist on the sides of each PodCycle station. To further entice usage, those who create a membership profile through our app (available on all smartphones) will receive redeemable points each time they choose to recycle with our service – a small reward for bettering the environment. To promote usage most successfully, reward points earned via the app can be redeemed towards the purchase of more JUUL pods, although points don’t add up very quickly (it will take a while to get that pack of free pods, so get recycling!). In the spirit of limiting smoking, other options will exist for point redemption such as donations to organizations working against climate change.
While smoking itself, specifically underage smoking, remains an epidemic at large, stopping smoking entirely is an incredibly complex problem. As much we here at PodCycle would like it to, we know smoking isn’t coming to a halt anytime soon, which is why we’ve made a mission out of limiting the effects the use of the largest tobacco product in the country will have our our environment. Using responsibly means disposing of responsibly, and we’re here to make that possible with our patented JUUL recycling service and to promote responsible, respectful, sustainable behavior with our rewards program.
Sketches: User Interface/Idea Map
Full Size Sketches:
Renderings: Imagined Street Usage/Simple User Interface Run-through
- There is no existing program for JUULproducts, and most JUUL products are thrown directly into the trash, if not on the street or flushed down toilets – a shockingly common occurrence.
- Though JUULdevices are marketed as reusable, most teens purchase an average of 3-4 JUUL devices, either because they are lost or due to fluctuating quits and relapses in use.
- JUULpods (capsules containing the nicotine “juice” used by the e-cigarette device) fare not reusable.
- Trash from JUUL pods creates an approximated 18 million pieces of new trash each month.
- Lithium Ion batteries used in JUUL devices are toxic to our environment and need to be disposed of in a safe way.
- “Juice” used in non-empty JUUL pods is toxic to our environment and need to be disposed of in a safe way.
- JUUL has taken no actions to date to address the disposal of their product, or the negative effects typical (trash cans, litter, sewer systems) disposal has on our environment.
- JUUL sales increased 600% from 2016-2017 and are predicted to grow exponentially.
- JUUL products are the most used e-cigarette, their sales representing 72% of the e-cigarette market