8 February 2021

In Vietnam, a youth leadership to deplastify the planet

Quentin Frécon
CEO at Schoolab Asia

Traditionally an agricultural country, Vietnam is now growing fast into an industrialized and modernized country. Since 1990, the consumption of plastic has increased by about 10% per year and the fast-growing businesses impacted the pollution challenges, making Vietnam one of the most polluted countries in Asia. In total, the country consumed more than 3.98 million tons of plastic last year. 

Vietnam is already a driving scene for innovation solving environmental and social challenges. Digital applications to enhance waste collection (mapping collection points, providing sorting information) had a substantial impact on the dominant informal sector (+50% of the waste collection). Furthermore, innovation can be low tech, like a water drops system to optimize water irrigation and mitigate salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta.

The Covid-19 crisis is forcing us to adapt? So is the environmental emergency. Let’s use this crisis as an opportunity for change, our daily life and working methods had to change and adapt. At Schoolab, we believe that innovation is key to address complex social and environmental issues as part of supporting Vietnam’s wish to change into a more sustainable country. 

Created in August 2019, Deplastify The Planet (DTP) is a one-of-a-kind project-based class offered jointly by UC Berkeley (SCET) and Schoolab where students work with companies on real-life challenges. With a single goal in mind: deplastify the planet. Each team of students is paired with a corporate partner and spends the entirety of the semester brainstorming, building, testing, and solving the environmental and social challenges.

Youth builds the path of sustainable development

In Oct 2020, we teamed up with Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology. They shared with us their desire to give an opportunity to students, introducing them to an alternative, original way to conduct research and innovation.

One of the greatest successes of this project was getting a large number of enthusiastic responses from students with various profiles and a fresh perspective to join the program. More than 25 among them expressed frustration about the polluted environment in Vietnam.

A student explaining her feelings about environmental situations

I consider this issue as one of the most important problems in the world as well as a serious danger to our ecology and even to all the plants and creatures. Thus, reducing plastic waste has always been my main purpose throughout my 4 years of studying the major about the environment. Therefore, with the title of the program “Deplastify the planet”, I don’t want to miss this opportunity to participate in this meaningful program. I’m always ready to dedicate my knowledge and efforts to make this world cleaner.

Nguyen Phuong Khanh, senior student from the Faculty of Environment & Natural Resources at Ho Chi Minh University of Technology

Despite a busy academic schedule, they all found time to study solutions. We provided them with Schoolab’s unique methodology to make research fun and effective. Design thinking is indeed a great tool to help to grow a concept out of an idea. Students can effectively gather knowledge and insights in order to create concrete prototypes and overcome the challenges they were assigned. 

Inspiration from sustainability speakers

During the 3 months of the program, we had the chance to welcome experienced speakers with expertise in the field of innovation & sustainability. Among them, Ms Nhi Thoi, managing director of Change VN, and Mr Pham Huy Duc, an engineer from Concept Green VN, Mr Binh from UNICEF, Mr Taku from KAMEREO, Ms Linh Le from AYA Cup, Ms Thuy Chung – Plastic & Microplastic expert, Mr Thien Phu & Mr Pham Hieu – plastic collection and recycling specialists. shared many inspirational stories for students: about their approach to sustainability, their long struggle with many challenges that they have faced… We also invited Nguyen Hoang Son, a student from Green River, to present the results of his project with the application of design thinking. 

Ms Linh Le, Founder of AYA cup, sharing her inspiration ideas to the students

Sustainability in business

Companies involved in sustainability are not exclusive to Europe. Many Vietnamese enterprises know that in the near future, the talents that they will recruit and their future customers will have to be committed to sustainability. They are willing to become role models to inspire other companies as well.

Deplastify the Planet is an amazing opportunity for students to learn by working on real-life challenges while corporate partners find a fantastic way to get new ideas, access a prime pool of talent, and communicate on a brand’s mission. They can work hand in hand finding alternatives in the circular economy, reducing waste, recycling, education and optimization.

Together, they find a more valuable way to innovate and solve the plastic issues we face today while inventing new ways to achieve a less plastic-dependent future.

Students working at Creative BootCamp workshop 

What projects are we working on?

With corporations, students, and professionals working together to capitalize on differences and reveal creativity.

  • Mekong desalination: finding solutions to mitigate the impact of salinity in soils of the Mekong Delta.
  • Reduce plastic take-away: finding alternative materials, new user experiences to reduce polluting packaging in take-away and delivery.
  • Deplastify HCMUT: identifying solutions to improve plastic waste management within HCMUT campus but also raise awareness on plastic.
  • Food waste reduction: finding upstream and downstream solutions of the supply chain to turn food waste into resources.
  • High value plastic waste: students identify sources of qualitative and exploitable plastic to input current Vietnamese infrastructures in order to produce recycled products.
Workshop 4: Official meeting with our corporate partners Yara, Les Vergers Du Mekong, PTE, Vietaus Polymer, Surfrider Foundation, Golden Gate Group

Why you should join the next session of RDTP

Join us in March/April 2021 and:

  • Develop new business ideas based on your key challenges in a short time through the creation of prototyping and testing new concepts
  • Gain a fresh perspective on your business mission, services and products by collaborating with Vietnam’s top students and talents from diverse background and expertise
  • Benefit from Schoolab’s proven innovation skills, built through 15 years of acceleration and creation across Europe, the Silicon Valley and Asia
  • Develop a creative culture and mindset, skill-up your collaborators on a project-based method while sharing diverse viewpoints with other companies
  • Improve your brand by working with various communities and attract new talents with an innovative acquisition channel.

How to join?

Write us and join the next promotion! quentin.frecon@theschoolab.com

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