Climathon 2023: Students take aim at single-use plastics

07 Feb 2024

The Seventh Annual Climathon Suzhou held at XJTLU’s International Business School Suzhou (IBSS) recently challenged participants to “Tackle Climate Change from the Ground Up”, with special focus on the problem of single-use plastics.

The RCE Suzhou (Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development), which held the event, rallied the approximately 60 participants from seven institutions to work together on creative ways to refuse, rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle these plastics.

Student teams presented proposals that were judged on criteria including connection to the challenge, local relevance, transformative potential, and development potential.

First prize went to a team that proposed using different parts of the bamboo plant, a sustainable material, to package products shipping in China. Jinrong Teng, a Year One student at XJTLU and member of XJTLU Oikos, a student organisation for sustainability in management and economics education, led the team. The other team members were Maya (Callista) Brusson and Anamika Prasad from UWC Changshu China.

“I really appreciate my teammates and the cross-cultural communication experience,” Teng says. “Winning the first prize is not only recognition but also encouragement for a sustainable lifestyle.”

 From left, XJTLU student Jinrong Teng; UWC Changshu China students

The second-prize winners conceived a more sustainable way to manage the large number of plastic yoghurt cups with straws discarded in institutional environments. The team, composed of students from UWC Changshu China and XJTLU’s IBSS, proposed discarding the yoghurt cups and straws separately, classifying the cups as reusable and straws as non-reusable. They then suggested ways to extend the life of yoghurt cups, such as using them for planting seedlings.

“By leveraging recycling technologies and engaging local communities such as farms and enterprises, we unlocked a pathway to not only reduce plastic waste but also to create valuable resources,” says team member Shiyu Shan, a Year Three student at XJTLU.

Shan was joined by Yuetong Yang and Yanning Qi, also Year Three XJTLU students, and three students from UWC Changshu China: Karolina Grigoryans, Leyan (Joseph) Zou, and Halle Sophia Efia Gyapomaa Ofosu. All the XJTLU students belong to the IBSS Sustainable Future Talents (SFT) group.

From left, IBSS academic staff Dr Mohamed Omran; Huan Ni, Green Light Year; UWC Changshu student Karolina Grigoryans; IBSS students Yanning Qi and Shiyu Shan; UWC Changshu students Leyan (Joseph) Zou and Halle Sophia Efia Gyapomaa Ofosu; and IBSS student Yuetong Yang

The third-prize winning team proposed an eco-friendly takeout system for schools, encouraging customers and suppliers to use reusable packaging. The team was composed of Marvelyne Margalena and Sator Proton Susanto, both Year Three students at XJTLU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Liberata Chubwa and Maximilian Zane Alexandrov from UWC Changshu China.

From left, XJTLU School of Design academic staff Dr Paola Pellegrini, UWC Changshu China students Maximilian Zane Alexandrov and Liberata Chubwa, and XJTLU students Marvelyne Margalena and Sator Proton Susanto

Dr Eunkyung Lee of IBSS hosted the competition and award sessions. Dr Ellen Touchstone, President of the RCE Suzhou at IBSS; Charlotte Penny from Dulwich College Suzhou; Huan Ni from Green Light Year, a member organisation of RCE Suzhou; and Dr Paola Pellegrini from XJTLU’s Design School gave talks.

Students say participating brought both greater awareness of issues related to climate change and ideas on how they can contribute to solutions.

“The Climathon brings together a group of like-minded people to solve environmental problems efficiently,” says Qi of the second-place team. “It not only deepens my understanding of the current situation but also enlightens us on how to make behaviour changes in the face of these problems.”

By International Business School Suzhou
Edited by Precious Chibeze, Tamara Kaup and Patricia Pieterse

07 Feb 2024