RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

Das RWI ist Partner des YES! – Young Economic Summit seit 2018.

Das RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung ist eines der führenden Zentren für wissenschaftliche Forschung und evidenzbasierte Politikberatung in Deutschland und Mitglied der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft.

Wirtschaft geht jeden etwas an: Im RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung erforschen Wissenschaftler, was warum und mit welchen Folgen für den Einzelnen und die Gesellschaft in der Wirtschaft passiert. Das Institut unterstützt mit diesen Forschungen die Politik, liefert wichtige Grundlagen für deren Entscheidungen und bewertet politische Maßnahmen. Dazu forscht das RWI in allen Ebenen – vom Individuum bis zur Weltwirtschaft – in vier Kompetenzbereichen: „Arbeitsmärkte, Bildung, Bevölkerung“, „Gesundheit“, „Umwelt und Ressourcen“ sowie „Wachstum, Konjunktur, Öffentliche Finanzen“. Das „FDZ Ruhr am RWI“ versorgt die Wissenschaftler mit aktuellsten Zahlen. Zudem möchte das RWI als öffentlich finanziertes Forschungsinstitut wirtschaftliche Zusammenhänge verständlich der Öffentlichkeit vermitteln – damit jeder Wirtschaft versteht.

Das RWI im Internet und Social Web

Homepage: www.rwi-essen.de

Twitter: @RWI_Essen

Facebook: @RWI.Essen

Flickr: RWI_Essen

RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

Das RWI ist Partner des YES! – Young Economic Summit seit 2018.

Das RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung ist eines der führenden Zentren für wissenschaftliche Forschung und evidenzbasierte Politikberatung in Deutschland und Mitglied der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft.

Wirtschaft geht jeden etwas an: Im RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung erforschen Wissenschaftler, was warum und mit welchen Folgen für den Einzelnen und die Gesellschaft in der Wirtschaft passiert. Das Institut unterstützt mit diesen Forschungen die Politik, liefert wichtige Grundlagen für deren Entscheidungen und bewertet politische Maßnahmen. Dazu forscht das RWI in allen Ebenen – vom Individuum bis zur Weltwirtschaft – in vier Kompetenzbereichen: „Arbeitsmärkte, Bildung, Bevölkerung“, „Gesundheit“, „Umwelt und Ressourcen“ sowie „Wachstum, Konjunktur, Öffentliche Finanzen“. Das „FDZ Ruhr am RWI“ versorgt die Wissenschaftler mit aktuellsten Zahlen. Zudem möchte das RWI als öffentlich finanziertes Forschungsinstitut wirtschaftliche Zusammenhänge verständlich der Öffentlichkeit vermitteln – damit jeder Wirtschaft versteht.

Das RWI im Internet und Social Web

Homepage: www.rwi-essen.de

Twitter: @RWI_Essen

Facebook: @RWI.Essen

Flickr: RWI_Essen

RWI-Themen für das YES! 2019

Forschende am RWI und Teilnehmer am YES!

Day 2 of the National Final 2018

September 28, 2018

After the long first day, the teams returned on Friday morning to the Bucerius Law School to attend the final five presentations. The first team took us to Africa! BBS Burgdorf dealt with the topic “How to Strengthen the Economy in African Developing Countries”, which was proposed by Roland Dörn of the RWI Essen. The solution they came up was an app called “Ubatimu” – an app that should help African farmers, by simulation and gamification, to find the best possible crops and fertilisers for their land. Our experts, Martin Foth-Feldhusen of the GIZ and Holger Thiele of the University of Applied Science Kiel, were critical towards the approach for several reasons but also acknowledged the innovative format of the solution.

Second on stage was the Georg-Büchner-Gymnasium Berlin. By having an interactive presentation of their solution “RSMS – A Better indicator for Economic Forecasting”, the group kept the audience interested in their topic “Sense and Nonsense of Economic Forecasts:  Motivation and Methods for macroeconomic  Forecasts” by Ferdinand Fichtner of the DIW Berlin. Nora Hesse of the European Commission and Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist of the HSH Nordbank, both thought that the idea is a good step in the right direction. In a lively discussion, the team responded to the many questions by the audience.

Promoting financial inclusion: New policies and technological innovations through digital finance”, by Helke Seitz and Tim Kaiser of the DIW Berlin was the next topic on the table. The team of Berlin International School tackled this problem and came up with “Virgo – A Financial Ecosystem Reinventing Microfinance”. This system, based on an app, should enable people in developing countries to get access to finance more easily. Three experts joined the discussion, Cyrus de la Rubia, Nora Hesse and Thorsten Grenz of KIMBRIA. Quickly, an active debate evolved regarding the Virgo system, blockchain technology and microfinancing in general.

The last session before the lunch break circled around the topic “Promoting Digitisation in Business” by Jörg Ohnemus and Steffen Viete of ZEW Mannheim. The team Saarpfalz Gymnasium Homburg developed the concept of “M.I.T. – A Certificate for Digital Skills”, a system of training opportunities for employees. This session was moderated by Susan Djahangard, editor at “Die Zeit”, who welcomed Dagmar Balve-Hauff of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer of the Tallinn University of Technology. The experts agreed with the team that there is the need for a continuous qualification on the job, but they also saw an already established market in this field.

Ranking the solutions at the YES! is not easy, but takes a lot of discussions. Photo: (c) YES!

The final presentation of the YES! 2018 was about “The Facebook Business Model -You are the Product” by Cora-Wacker-Theodorakopolous and Timm Leinker of ZBW Leibniz Information Centre of Economics. The team of Gymnasium Wellingdorf asked themselves what kind of data has Facebook of each user. They used the options Facebook provides of downloading the user’s data and developed the concept of an app to visualise the data to understand more easily. The experts, Anne Riechert of Stiftung Datenschutz and Jil Sörensen of Hamburg Media School, pointed out how important it is to be sensible about the personal data and that such an app could undoubtedly improve the awareness.

Next, after the 1-minute-pitches of each team and a clear instruction on the voting procedures, the announcement of the winners was on the agenda.

Each team ranked the others and distributed 11 points to their favourite, 10 to the next and so on. And, as something new to the YES! in 2018, representatives of each team came to the stage to tell and explain, which team they ranked first. Excitingly, it showed that all the teams did a great job because a great variety of solutions was as the favourite solutions.

The three winning teams of 2018. Photo: (c) YES!

But not only the large numbers count. And so the winning teams finally were announced. Third place was the group Gesamtschule Waldbröl. The second was Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf, and the first place went to, drum roll please, Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim II.

After two long days at the final, four regional finals and more than half a year of working with the teams, the organising team of the YES! certainly is happy for the winners, but we also feel with the teams that didn’t make it to the top. However, we know that they worked hard. And the past years have shown to us, that you don’t need to be in the top 3 to have a great idea that can change something.

We thank all of the teams, the teachers, the research institutions and their scientists for their support throughout the year. We are looking forward to coming back again next year, even larger with the fifth region South-East and a true nationwide competition.

Your YES! team

Day 1 of the National Final 2018

September 27, 2018

Welcome to the YES! 2018

It’s the first day of this year’s final – a new location, teams from four different regions, two moderators and twelve solutions that have made it through the regional finals.

The teams prepared themselves with printouts of the solutions for the upcoming presentations. Photo: (c) YES!

Conny Czymoch and David Patrician, our moderators, gave a warm welcome to the participants and forwarded the greeting by Peter Altmaier, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, the patron of the YES!. In his written statement, he stressed the importance of the economic education for students and thanked all the scientists, teachers and students for the efforts and engagement.

To be the first team to come onto the stage is always tough, but the group of the Carl-Maria-von-Weber Gymnasium from Eutin did a great job promoting their idea. They had chosen the topic of “Why don’t they care? Nudges to improve willingness to help?” by Lena Detlefsen and Katharina Lima de Miranda from the IfW Kiel. Their idea focused on teaching younger children how to make the first response in case of an emergency. Their concept of a seal for schools to provide such seminars for their students was strongly supported by one of the experts, Bernd W. Böttiger. Prof Böttiger of the University Hospital of Cologne emphasised that such a concept has the potential – if properly implemented – to save thousands of lives each year. The second expert, Karsten Schmidt of the Roskilde University and an expert on nudging, indeed saw the potential as well, but also recommended some improvements on the nudging side of the project.

Second on stage was a team from the new region East. The Alfred-Nobel-Gesamtschule Potsdam wants to involve young school students in research. Their supporting scientist, Henry Sauermann of the ESMT Berlin, proposed the topic “Involving Citizens in Research: Improving Science and Society”. The team came up with the concept of an online platform, directed to teachers and students, that include citizen science projects that are suitable for using them at school. The two experts were Katrin Vohland of the Museum for Natural Science in Berlin and Ole Wintermann of the Bertelsmann Stiftung. They both recognised the positive elements of the idea immediately, but also recommended some improvements to benefit from the existing platforms.

Sustaining the World’s Oceans” by Christine Bertram of the IfW Kiel was the topic to talk about after the first break of the day. The team of the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Schule Neumünster introduced their booklet for children with some animal characters to teach young children how to behave correctly to prevent further pollution of the seas. Our experts for this session, Mirjam Steffensky from the IPN – Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, and Achim Lauber from the JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik, expressed their support for the booklet right away. They pointed out that such a brochure is not designed to solve a problem like the pollution of the oceans, but a good starting point to educating younger children and thus being an essential step in the right direction.

The team Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf discussed their solutions with our experts Wiebke Weger and Lars Müller. Photo: (c) YES!

The fourth proposal of the morning was presented by a team from the region South-West, Otto-Schott-Gymnasium Mainz-Gonsenheim:  “Citizen’s Assistant – Improve Efficiency in Public Administration”. The idea is a response to the challenge by Sebastian Blesse and Thomas Schwab of the ZEW called “eGoverning Germany: The future of public administration“. In a lively presentation, the group outlined their expectations for a service-oriented citizen service by the public administration. This time, three experts commented on the solution. Nuria Villanova of the OECD, Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer of the Tallinn University of Technology and Thomas Langkabel of the Initiative D21. They all supported the basic idea of making public services more available in a digital fashion but also agreed that it is a long way to go to do this change.

Next on stage after a relaxing lunch break was the team Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf. They tackled the problem of lack of trust in shopping reviews on the Internet, as described in the challenge “Transactions via the Internet – How can trust be built?” by the researchers Rebekka Rehm and Clemens Recker of the iwp Institute for Economic Policy at the University of Cologne. Their answer to this question is called “1Feedback”, a system that combines writing reviews of purchases across the Internet along with a gamification aspect and a reward system. The experts for this session were Wiebke Weger, an experienced and independent marketing expert, and Lars Müller, CEO of the marketing agency wigital. They were impressed by the presentation of the team, yet they also pointed out how difficult a project like this could be regarding data protection and the interchange between online shops.

New ways for a future-proof and generation-appropriate care” was the topic provided by Ingo Kolodziej of the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen. This was the task, and the team of Gesamtschule Waldbröl developed the concept of an online platform where young people get a bounty in various forms to help older adults. Karsten Schmidt of the Roskilde University and Juliane Zielonka of the Techniker Krankenkasse as experts on this topic quickly engaged in a discussion on the pros and cons of the proposal.

What a way to end a presentation on “High-Five”, the solution proposed by the Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim. Photo: (c) YES!

The final presentation of the first day was left for the team of Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim, and their topic was one that affects a large number of children: “How to combat child poverty and how can children and adolescents be best supported”, which was proposed by Holger Stichnoth of the ZEW Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim. The team presented their approach “High Five”, which includes activities at schools and the communities to support children that excluded from many activities because their families can’t afford them. The discussants, Dagmar Balve-Hauff of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sabine Hübgen of the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre and Achim Lauber of JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik, all agreed on the importance of a proposal like “High Five” and to put children in the focus of the project.

What a great Day 1 it was at the YES! 2018 National Final. We certainly enjoyed the presentations, the critical questions both from the experts and the audience and how the presenters found arguments to defend their idea.

We are looking forward to the Day 2 with the remaining five teams and the voting.

Stay tuned!

Gymnasium Wellingdorf (2015)

Reduction of Plastic Waste Through a Deposit System for Plastic Bags

1st place solution of the YES! 2015

Introduction
Our general topic is the “circular economy”, which is about making the world’s economy more sustainable. This is a very interesting, but also a complex and difficult topic. So we focused on one single aspect: The life cycle of the common plastic bag.

We live in a time where things that we use frequently have just a short life cycle, such as electronic devices or packages for food. Of course, we are able to recycle, for instance, paper-based materials, but there is especially one material that is mostly used in a linear and not in a circular way. Nowadays, plastic is one of the most used materials for every kind of product. But the fact that recycling plastic is very expensive, difficult and produces highly toxic gases, leads to a very low recycling rate for plastic, which lies under 25 per cent worldwide.

Many plastic bags are not disposed of professionally. So they pollute the land and oceans and are a danger for the ecosystem and the animals. Because of their chemical properties, plastic bags are bad bio-degradable to non-biodegradable. Marine animals, like seabirds, eat these plastic wastes (ex.: tortoises mistake the plastic bags for jellyfish and fish the little particles for plankton) and perish or become diseased.

Sometimes, the plastic reaches the human body again by consumption of marine animals, for example, cod. Other environmental impacts followed by using plastic are carbon dioxide emissions due to incinerators. We discussed how to use plastic in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way. Without a doubt, fixing the whole problem is impossible. But we want to make a big step forward by rethinking the usage of plastic bags.

Capabilities and measures

Plastic bags are cheap or free, light and resilient. That is why so many people all over the world are using them. However, they are just used one time before consumers are throwing them away and buy new ones, for instance, the next time they buy groceries.

The European Union adopted a law in 2015 that all members of the Union are allowed to prohibit the selling of plastic bags completely, to increase taxes on them, or to introduce binding reduction goals. These are maximal 90 plastic bags p. P./a till 31.12. 2019 and 40plastic bags p. P./a till 31.12. 2025. Germany has a consumption of 76 bags p. P./a. Until today, Germany did not change anything considering the usage of plastic bags even though
this topic is so important.

The first upcoming and simplest solution to this problem would be to prohibit selling plastic bags: everyone would be forced to use alternatives such as paper bags. But these alternatives are not as eco-friendly and convenient as they seem to be. On the one hand, paper bags are very sustainable because you can recycle them to make new ones. On the other hand, recycling those uses a lot of water and energy. Furthermore many customers consider them impractical.
So we thought about a new and different way to make the usage of plastic bags more
sustainable.

YES! Solution
There are three simple and common methods that can reduce the waste of plastic bags, we came up with:

1. Regulatory Law:

  • legal prohibition of non-recyclable plastics or
  • maximum amount of plastic bags per head in a year

The big advantage of using regulatory laws is that it is compulsory for both customers and producers. But, as stated earlier, a prohibition of non-recyclable plastics is not effective because highly recyclable one is still too expensive in production and for instance, paper bags are not as ecofriendly as one might think they are. Furthermore, it is difficult to control the maximal amount if plastic bags used by households in a single year.

2. Financial Incentives:

  • deposit or
  • taxation

To charge a deposit would stop the environmental pollution based on plastic bags thrown away because the customers would collect them and bring them back to the vendor to get back their money. On the downside, the overall amount of plastic bags would not necessarily decrease and the life cycle of the bags would remain the same.

The introduction of a tax on plastic bags can have beneficial outcomes, since the price of a single bag is higher than the amount of money a consumer is willing to pay. TheRepublic of Ireland is a good case study for the effectiveness of a tax on plastic bags:

In March 2002, a 15 €-Cent tax was levied on each plastic carrier bag purchased by customers in supermarkets. This measure led to a change in consumer’s behavior. One advantage was that consumers stopped using as many bags as they wanted and they were encouraged to reuse the plastic bags. The tax was a huge success. Within three months of the tax being introduced, the number of plastic bags that were handed out was reduced by 90 percent and after five months, 3.5 million € had been raised. This amount of money is used to supply an environmental fund, which finances recycling
infrastructure. On first of July, the tax was raised to 22 €-Cents. After this increase, the last supermarkets stopped selling plastic bags. The results are striking: there is not a single plastic carrier bag left in supermarkets and they all have been replaced by paper or reusable bags. So the Irish experience in the struggle against littering has proved so successful that other EU countries are now considering following their example. Some facts about the effectiveness of the tax: the proportion of plastic bags of the waste found in environment slumped from 5 percent to 0.22 percent. The administrative costs lay by about 3 percent of the income and are thereby very low. The reactions of the retailer and also of the customers were positive. The tax has a high acceptance in Ireland, because it was developed in close collaboration between politics and agents of the economy and customers.

3. Subsidisation for research in eco-friendly plastics
We think that fostering research in in ecofriendly plastics is one of the most important aspects when talking about decreasing plastic pollution in general. But our goal is to find a solution that could be realized in a short period of time. No one knows how long it will take to find the perfect material to replace the classic plastic.

Our YES!-Solution combines all three methods to a single one that takes advantage of the strength of each concept and combines them.
The goal is to establish a more robust plastic bag which has got a significantly longer working life, if used properly. On the plastic bags are signs of deposit, similar to the one on the PET bottles. The deposit amounts are a large part of the purchase price, so if the plastic bags are being returned, there will be only minimal costs for the user. Those plastic bags will be used again. In order to prevent the consumer from buying the current plastic bags, a drastic price increase is needed, to make the usage of the robust plastic bag more attractive. In the long run, the single-usage-plastic-bags will be banned completely by law.

The producers of the plastic bags are responsible for the production and recycling of the new bag. Taking back the plastic bags and paying out of the deposit lies in the responsibility of commerce, as known from returnable bottles. The usage of the robust plastic bags can be one important part of a sustainable and green business strategy implemented by retailers.
The retailers, including supermarkets and fashion stores, can choose an individual design to communicate their corporate social responsibility. Apart from that, there are still alternatives to plastic bags, for example, recycled paper bags or consumers bring and use their own baskets or cotton bags.

Conclusion
Overall, the solution comprises the adoption of the deposit system of PET bottles. For simplicity, we suggest a deposit of 25 €-Cents per plastic bag, like the deposit for bottles. Single-usage-plastic-bags and paper bags have to be taxed by the same amount so the retailers have an incentive to switch to the new deposit system. The retailers have the choice of paying the tax or using the newly developed plastic bags and introducing the deposit system. The revenues of the tax can be used to subsidize the research of alternative materials like ecofriendly plastics.

As a new and better plastic bag, we have found a fold-up reusable carrying bag made of polyester. It is a particularly, intelligent and ecofriendly bag which is very robust and can carry about 10 kilograms. The customer can fold the plastic bag to the size of a package of handkerchiefs after using and poke it into an attached fastener bag. The bag only weighs 31 grams, not more than a normal plastic bag.

Our solution is simple but not as easy to implement, since the infrastructure for it has to be established. Especially Germany has to be a pioneer in environmental protection. Its exemplary function will lead many other countries, even outside the EU, to make an effort to fight against the pollution by plastic. Oil is limited and plastic loses its quality when it is recycled too often. Unfortunately, a totally environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bags does not exist right now. One of the main points of this project is that the customers understand the necessity to decrease the amount
of plastic used in packaging, bags, etc. in general. The described process is lengthy, especially when it comes to organizations, but it is worthwhile because it ensures the environmental protection in the long run.
To get an impression how people might react on the introduction of a deposit system for plastic bags, one can draw on the experiences made after the introduction of a deposit system for PET bottles. At first, the deposit return was not used as much as estimated. This was due to a bad system that was not well thought through and led to confusion on how and where the bottles should be returned. After the current system was introduced, the deposit
returns increased rapidly because it became a lot easier. You can return all of your bottles marked as deposit bottles in every store where they are sold. In 2006 about 20 percent of the bottles were not returned and thrown away. Today´s numbers show that only 5 percent of the deposit bottles are not returned. From 2009 to 2012, the percentage of sold disposable glass bottles increased only by 0.9 percent, disposable PET bottles by 13.1 percent and cans (up to 1 liter) by 63.8 percent. Only the numbers of returnable glass bottles sold decreased by 4.1 percent. So we see that the German population is willing to return their bottles if there is a simple, universal system. Other examples around the world show the same statistics. Countries like Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, 14 States of the USA and two Australian States have similar systems. This experience makes us confident, that a deposit system for plastic bags will also be accepted by customers.

Literature
Convery, Frank, Simon McDonnell, Susana Ferreira (2007); “The most popular tax in
Europe? Lessons from the Irish plastic bags levy.”; in: Environmental and Resource
Economics. Nr.38, 2007, S.1–11
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015); “Growth Within: A Circular Economy Vision for a
Competitive Europe”; Ellen MacArthur Foundation; McKinsey Center for Business and
Environment; 2015
Magdoff, Fred (2013); “Global Resource Depletion – Is Population the Problem?”; Monthly
Review, Volume 64, Issue 08, 2013
Nedbank Sustainability Outlook (2013); “The Limited Earth Problem”
Oberhuber, Nadine (2013); „Die Plastiktüte ist besser als ihr Ruf“; Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung, 31.03.2013
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/finanzen/meine-finanzen/geldausgeben/
nachrichten/einkaufstueten-die-plastiktuete-ist-besser-als-ihr-ruf-12870192.html
Rosling, Hans (2010); “The Magic Washing Machine”

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine?language=en

Deutsche Umwelthilfe; „Zahlen und Fakten zu Plastiktüten“
http://www.duh.de/3711.html
Let’s talk Plastics (2011); „Plastiktüten oder Papiertüten“; Let’s talk Plastics 01.07.2011
http://letstalkplastics.com/de/facts/plastikt-ten-oder-papiert-ten
WWF Jugend (2014); „Kommt nicht in die Tüte – Plastikmüll”; Thema Plastikmüll: Aktuelle
Artikel
http://www.wwf-jugend.de/durchstarten/stoppt-den-plastikmuell/artikel/kommt-nicht-in-dietuete-
plastiktueten;6446
Mehrweg.org; “Häufig gestellte Fragen”
http://www.mehrweg.org/faq/

Photo: YES!

Day 2 of the National Final 2018

September 28, 2018

After the long first day, the teams returned on Friday morning to the Bucerius Law School to attend the final five presentations. The first team took us to Africa! BBS Burgdorf dealt with the topic “How to Strengthen the Economy in African Developing Countries”, which was proposed by Roland Dörn of the RWI Essen. The solution they came up was an app called “Ubatimu” – an app that should help African farmers, by simulation and gamification, to find the best possible crops and fertilisers for their land. Our experts, Martin Foth-Feldhusen of the GIZ and Holger Thiele of the University of Applied Science Kiel, were critical towards the approach for several reasons but also acknowledged the innovative format of the solution.

Second on stage was the Georg-Büchner-Gymnasium Berlin. By having an interactive presentation of their solution “RSMS – A Better indicator for Economic Forecasting”, the group kept the audience interested in their topic “Sense and Nonsense of Economic Forecasts:  Motivation and Methods for macroeconomic  Forecasts” by Ferdinand Fichtner of the DIW Berlin. Nora Hesse of the European Commission and Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist of the HSH Nordbank, both thought that the idea is a good step in the right direction. In a lively discussion, the team responded to the many questions by the audience.

Promoting financial inclusion: New policies and technological innovations through digital finance”, by Helke Seitz and Tim Kaiser of the DIW Berlin was the next topic on the table. The team of Berlin International School tackled this problem and came up with “Virgo – A Financial Ecosystem Reinventing Microfinance”. This system, based on an app, should enable people in developing countries to get access to finance more easily. Three experts joined the discussion, Cyrus de la Rubia, Nora Hesse and Thorsten Grenz of KIMBRIA. Quickly, an active debate evolved regarding the Virgo system, blockchain technology and microfinancing in general.

The last session before the lunch break circled around the topic “Promoting Digitisation in Business” by Jörg Ohnemus and Steffen Viete of ZEW Mannheim. The team Saarpfalz Gymnasium Homburg developed the concept of “M.I.T. – A Certificate for Digital Skills”, a system of training opportunities for employees. This session was moderated by Susan Djahangard, editor at “Die Zeit”, who welcomed Dagmar Balve-Hauff of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer of the Tallinn University of Technology. The experts agreed with the team that there is the need for a continuous qualification on the job, but they also saw an already established market in this field.

Ranking the solutions at the YES! is not easy, but takes a lot of discussions. Photo: (c) YES!

The final presentation of the YES! 2018 was about “The Facebook Business Model -You are the Product” by Cora-Wacker-Theodorakopolous and Timm Leinker of ZBW Leibniz Information Centre of Economics. The team of Gymnasium Wellingdorf asked themselves what kind of data has Facebook of each user. They used the options Facebook provides of downloading the user’s data and developed the concept of an app to visualise the data to understand more easily. The experts, Anne Riechert of Stiftung Datenschutz and Jil Sörensen of Hamburg Media School, pointed out how important it is to be sensible about the personal data and that such an app could undoubtedly improve the awareness.

Next, after the 1-minute-pitches of each team and a clear instruction on the voting procedures, the announcement of the winners was on the agenda.

Each team ranked the others and distributed 11 points to their favourite, 10 to the next and so on. And, as something new to the YES! in 2018, representatives of each team came to the stage to tell and explain, which team they ranked first. Excitingly, it showed that all the teams did a great job because a great variety of solutions was as the favourite solutions.

The three winning teams of 2018. Photo: (c) YES!

But not only the large numbers count. And so the winning teams finally were announced. Third place was the group Gesamtschule Waldbröl. The second was Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf, and the first place went to, drum roll please, Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim II.

After two long days at the final, four regional finals and more than half a year of working with the teams, the organising team of the YES! certainly is happy for the winners, but we also feel with the teams that didn’t make it to the top. However, we know that they worked hard. And the past years have shown to us, that you don’t need to be in the top 3 to have a great idea that can change something.

We thank all of the teams, the teachers, the research institutions and their scientists for their support throughout the year. We are looking forward to coming back again next year, even larger with the fifth region South-East and a true nationwide competition.

Your YES! team

Day 1 of the National Final 2018

September 27, 2018

Welcome to the YES! 2018

It’s the first day of this year’s final – a new location, teams from four different regions, two moderators and twelve solutions that have made it through the regional finals.

The teams prepared themselves with printouts of the solutions for the upcoming presentations. Photo: (c) YES!

Conny Czymoch and David Patrician, our moderators, gave a warm welcome to the participants and forwarded the greeting by Peter Altmaier, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, the patron of the YES!. In his written statement, he stressed the importance of the economic education for students and thanked all the scientists, teachers and students for the efforts and engagement.

To be the first team to come onto the stage is always tough, but the group of the Carl-Maria-von-Weber Gymnasium from Eutin did a great job promoting their idea. They had chosen the topic of “Why don’t they care? Nudges to improve willingness to help?” by Lena Detlefsen and Katharina Lima de Miranda from the IfW Kiel. Their idea focused on teaching younger children how to make the first response in case of an emergency. Their concept of a seal for schools to provide such seminars for their students was strongly supported by one of the experts, Bernd W. Böttiger. Prof Böttiger of the University Hospital of Cologne emphasised that such a concept has the potential – if properly implemented – to save thousands of lives each year. The second expert, Karsten Schmidt of the Roskilde University and an expert on nudging, indeed saw the potential as well, but also recommended some improvements on the nudging side of the project.

Second on stage was a team from the new region East. The Alfred-Nobel-Gesamtschule Potsdam wants to involve young school students in research. Their supporting scientist, Henry Sauermann of the ESMT Berlin, proposed the topic “Involving Citizens in Research: Improving Science and Society”. The team came up with the concept of an online platform, directed to teachers and students, that include citizen science projects that are suitable for using them at school. The two experts were Katrin Vohland of the Museum for Natural Science in Berlin and Ole Wintermann of the Bertelsmann Stiftung. They both recognised the positive elements of the idea immediately, but also recommended some improvements to benefit from the existing platforms.

Sustaining the World’s Oceans” by Christine Bertram of the IfW Kiel was the topic to talk about after the first break of the day. The team of the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Schule Neumünster introduced their booklet for children with some animal characters to teach young children how to behave correctly to prevent further pollution of the seas. Our experts for this session, Mirjam Steffensky from the IPN – Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, and Achim Lauber from the JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik, expressed their support for the booklet right away. They pointed out that such a brochure is not designed to solve a problem like the pollution of the oceans, but a good starting point to educating younger children and thus being an essential step in the right direction.

The team Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf discussed their solutions with our experts Wiebke Weger and Lars Müller. Photo: (c) YES!

The fourth proposal of the morning was presented by a team from the region South-West, Otto-Schott-Gymnasium Mainz-Gonsenheim:  “Citizen’s Assistant – Improve Efficiency in Public Administration”. The idea is a response to the challenge by Sebastian Blesse and Thomas Schwab of the ZEW called “eGoverning Germany: The future of public administration“. In a lively presentation, the group outlined their expectations for a service-oriented citizen service by the public administration. This time, three experts commented on the solution. Nuria Villanova of the OECD, Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer of the Tallinn University of Technology and Thomas Langkabel of the Initiative D21. They all supported the basic idea of making public services more available in a digital fashion but also agreed that it is a long way to go to do this change.

Next on stage after a relaxing lunch break was the team Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf. They tackled the problem of lack of trust in shopping reviews on the Internet, as described in the challenge “Transactions via the Internet – How can trust be built?” by the researchers Rebekka Rehm and Clemens Recker of the iwp Institute for Economic Policy at the University of Cologne. Their answer to this question is called “1Feedback”, a system that combines writing reviews of purchases across the Internet along with a gamification aspect and a reward system. The experts for this session were Wiebke Weger, an experienced and independent marketing expert, and Lars Müller, CEO of the marketing agency wigital. They were impressed by the presentation of the team, yet they also pointed out how difficult a project like this could be regarding data protection and the interchange between online shops.

New ways for a future-proof and generation-appropriate care” was the topic provided by Ingo Kolodziej of the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen. This was the task, and the team of Gesamtschule Waldbröl developed the concept of an online platform where young people get a bounty in various forms to help older adults. Karsten Schmidt of the Roskilde University and Juliane Zielonka of the Techniker Krankenkasse as experts on this topic quickly engaged in a discussion on the pros and cons of the proposal.

What a way to end a presentation on “High-Five”, the solution proposed by the Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim. Photo: (c) YES!

The final presentation of the first day was left for the team of Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim, and their topic was one that affects a large number of children: “How to combat child poverty and how can children and adolescents be best supported”, which was proposed by Holger Stichnoth of the ZEW Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim. The team presented their approach “High Five”, which includes activities at schools and the communities to support children that excluded from many activities because their families can’t afford them. The discussants, Dagmar Balve-Hauff of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sabine Hübgen of the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre and Achim Lauber of JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik, all agreed on the importance of a proposal like “High Five” and to put children in the focus of the project.

What a great Day 1 it was at the YES! 2018 National Final. We certainly enjoyed the presentations, the critical questions both from the experts and the audience and how the presenters found arguments to defend their idea.

We are looking forward to the Day 2 with the remaining five teams and the voting.

Stay tuned!

Gymnasium Wellingdorf (2015)

Reduction of Plastic Waste Through a Deposit System for Plastic Bags

1st place solution of the YES! 2015

Introduction
Our general topic is the “circular economy”, which is about making the world’s economy more sustainable. This is a very interesting, but also a complex and difficult topic. So we focused on one single aspect: The life cycle of the common plastic bag.

We live in a time where things that we use frequently have just a short life cycle, such as electronic devices or packages for food. Of course, we are able to recycle, for instance, paper-based materials, but there is especially one material that is mostly used in a linear and not in a circular way. Nowadays, plastic is one of the most used materials for every kind of product. But the fact that recycling plastic is very expensive, difficult and produces highly toxic gases, leads to a very low recycling rate for plastic, which lies under 25 per cent worldwide.

Many plastic bags are not disposed of professionally. So they pollute the land and oceans and are a danger for the ecosystem and the animals. Because of their chemical properties, plastic bags are bad bio-degradable to non-biodegradable. Marine animals, like seabirds, eat these plastic wastes (ex.: tortoises mistake the plastic bags for jellyfish and fish the little particles for plankton) and perish or become diseased.

Sometimes, the plastic reaches the human body again by consumption of marine animals, for example, cod. Other environmental impacts followed by using plastic are carbon dioxide emissions due to incinerators. We discussed how to use plastic in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way. Without a doubt, fixing the whole problem is impossible. But we want to make a big step forward by rethinking the usage of plastic bags.

Capabilities and measures

Plastic bags are cheap or free, light and resilient. That is why so many people all over the world are using them. However, they are just used one time before consumers are throwing them away and buy new ones, for instance, the next time they buy groceries.

The European Union adopted a law in 2015 that all members of the Union are allowed to prohibit the selling of plastic bags completely, to increase taxes on them, or to introduce binding reduction goals. These are maximal 90 plastic bags p. P./a till 31.12. 2019 and 40plastic bags p. P./a till 31.12. 2025. Germany has a consumption of 76 bags p. P./a. Until today, Germany did not change anything considering the usage of plastic bags even though
this topic is so important.

The first upcoming and simplest solution to this problem would be to prohibit selling plastic bags: everyone would be forced to use alternatives such as paper bags. But these alternatives are not as eco-friendly and convenient as they seem to be. On the one hand, paper bags are very sustainable because you can recycle them to make new ones. On the other hand, recycling those uses a lot of water and energy. Furthermore many customers consider them impractical.
So we thought about a new and different way to make the usage of plastic bags more
sustainable.

YES! Solution
There are three simple and common methods that can reduce the waste of plastic bags, we came up with:

1. Regulatory Law:

  • legal prohibition of non-recyclable plastics or
  • maximum amount of plastic bags per head in a year

The big advantage of using regulatory laws is that it is compulsory for both customers and producers. But, as stated earlier, a prohibition of non-recyclable plastics is not effective because highly recyclable one is still too expensive in production and for instance, paper bags are not as ecofriendly as one might think they are. Furthermore, it is difficult to control the maximal amount if plastic bags used by households in a single year.

2. Financial Incentives:

  • deposit or
  • taxation

To charge a deposit would stop the environmental pollution based on plastic bags thrown away because the customers would collect them and bring them back to the vendor to get back their money. On the downside, the overall amount of plastic bags would not necessarily decrease and the life cycle of the bags would remain the same.

The introduction of a tax on plastic bags can have beneficial outcomes, since the price of a single bag is higher than the amount of money a consumer is willing to pay. TheRepublic of Ireland is a good case study for the effectiveness of a tax on plastic bags:

In March 2002, a 15 €-Cent tax was levied on each plastic carrier bag purchased by customers in supermarkets. This measure led to a change in consumer’s behavior. One advantage was that consumers stopped using as many bags as they wanted and they were encouraged to reuse the plastic bags. The tax was a huge success. Within three months of the tax being introduced, the number of plastic bags that were handed out was reduced by 90 percent and after five months, 3.5 million € had been raised. This amount of money is used to supply an environmental fund, which finances recycling
infrastructure. On first of July, the tax was raised to 22 €-Cents. After this increase, the last supermarkets stopped selling plastic bags. The results are striking: there is not a single plastic carrier bag left in supermarkets and they all have been replaced by paper or reusable bags. So the Irish experience in the struggle against littering has proved so successful that other EU countries are now considering following their example. Some facts about the effectiveness of the tax: the proportion of plastic bags of the waste found in environment slumped from 5 percent to 0.22 percent. The administrative costs lay by about 3 percent of the income and are thereby very low. The reactions of the retailer and also of the customers were positive. The tax has a high acceptance in Ireland, because it was developed in close collaboration between politics and agents of the economy and customers.

3. Subsidisation for research in eco-friendly plastics
We think that fostering research in in ecofriendly plastics is one of the most important aspects when talking about decreasing plastic pollution in general. But our goal is to find a solution that could be realized in a short period of time. No one knows how long it will take to find the perfect material to replace the classic plastic.

Our YES!-Solution combines all three methods to a single one that takes advantage of the strength of each concept and combines them.
The goal is to establish a more robust plastic bag which has got a significantly longer working life, if used properly. On the plastic bags are signs of deposit, similar to the one on the PET bottles. The deposit amounts are a large part of the purchase price, so if the plastic bags are being returned, there will be only minimal costs for the user. Those plastic bags will be used again. In order to prevent the consumer from buying the current plastic bags, a drastic price increase is needed, to make the usage of the robust plastic bag more attractive. In the long run, the single-usage-plastic-bags will be banned completely by law.

The producers of the plastic bags are responsible for the production and recycling of the new bag. Taking back the plastic bags and paying out of the deposit lies in the responsibility of commerce, as known from returnable bottles. The usage of the robust plastic bags can be one important part of a sustainable and green business strategy implemented by retailers.
The retailers, including supermarkets and fashion stores, can choose an individual design to communicate their corporate social responsibility. Apart from that, there are still alternatives to plastic bags, for example, recycled paper bags or consumers bring and use their own baskets or cotton bags.

Conclusion
Overall, the solution comprises the adoption of the deposit system of PET bottles. For simplicity, we suggest a deposit of 25 €-Cents per plastic bag, like the deposit for bottles. Single-usage-plastic-bags and paper bags have to be taxed by the same amount so the retailers have an incentive to switch to the new deposit system. The retailers have the choice of paying the tax or using the newly developed plastic bags and introducing the deposit system. The revenues of the tax can be used to subsidize the research of alternative materials like ecofriendly plastics.

As a new and better plastic bag, we have found a fold-up reusable carrying bag made of polyester. It is a particularly, intelligent and ecofriendly bag which is very robust and can carry about 10 kilograms. The customer can fold the plastic bag to the size of a package of handkerchiefs after using and poke it into an attached fastener bag. The bag only weighs 31 grams, not more than a normal plastic bag.

Our solution is simple but not as easy to implement, since the infrastructure for it has to be established. Especially Germany has to be a pioneer in environmental protection. Its exemplary function will lead many other countries, even outside the EU, to make an effort to fight against the pollution by plastic. Oil is limited and plastic loses its quality when it is recycled too often. Unfortunately, a totally environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bags does not exist right now. One of the main points of this project is that the customers understand the necessity to decrease the amount
of plastic used in packaging, bags, etc. in general. The described process is lengthy, especially when it comes to organizations, but it is worthwhile because it ensures the environmental protection in the long run.
To get an impression how people might react on the introduction of a deposit system for plastic bags, one can draw on the experiences made after the introduction of a deposit system for PET bottles. At first, the deposit return was not used as much as estimated. This was due to a bad system that was not well thought through and led to confusion on how and where the bottles should be returned. After the current system was introduced, the deposit
returns increased rapidly because it became a lot easier. You can return all of your bottles marked as deposit bottles in every store where they are sold. In 2006 about 20 percent of the bottles were not returned and thrown away. Today´s numbers show that only 5 percent of the deposit bottles are not returned. From 2009 to 2012, the percentage of sold disposable glass bottles increased only by 0.9 percent, disposable PET bottles by 13.1 percent and cans (up to 1 liter) by 63.8 percent. Only the numbers of returnable glass bottles sold decreased by 4.1 percent. So we see that the German population is willing to return their bottles if there is a simple, universal system. Other examples around the world show the same statistics. Countries like Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, 14 States of the USA and two Australian States have similar systems. This experience makes us confident, that a deposit system for plastic bags will also be accepted by customers.

Literature
Convery, Frank, Simon McDonnell, Susana Ferreira (2007); “The most popular tax in
Europe? Lessons from the Irish plastic bags levy.”; in: Environmental and Resource
Economics. Nr.38, 2007, S.1–11
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015); “Growth Within: A Circular Economy Vision for a
Competitive Europe”; Ellen MacArthur Foundation; McKinsey Center for Business and
Environment; 2015
Magdoff, Fred (2013); “Global Resource Depletion – Is Population the Problem?”; Monthly
Review, Volume 64, Issue 08, 2013
Nedbank Sustainability Outlook (2013); “The Limited Earth Problem”
Oberhuber, Nadine (2013); „Die Plastiktüte ist besser als ihr Ruf“; Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung, 31.03.2013
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/finanzen/meine-finanzen/geldausgeben/
nachrichten/einkaufstueten-die-plastiktuete-ist-besser-als-ihr-ruf-12870192.html
Rosling, Hans (2010); “The Magic Washing Machine”

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine?language=en

Deutsche Umwelthilfe; „Zahlen und Fakten zu Plastiktüten“
http://www.duh.de/3711.html
Let’s talk Plastics (2011); „Plastiktüten oder Papiertüten“; Let’s talk Plastics 01.07.2011
http://letstalkplastics.com/de/facts/plastikt-ten-oder-papiert-ten
WWF Jugend (2014); „Kommt nicht in die Tüte – Plastikmüll”; Thema Plastikmüll: Aktuelle
Artikel
http://www.wwf-jugend.de/durchstarten/stoppt-den-plastikmuell/artikel/kommt-nicht-in-dietuete-
plastiktueten;6446
Mehrweg.org; “Häufig gestellte Fragen”
http://www.mehrweg.org/faq/

Photo: YES!

Day 2 of the National Final 2018

September 28, 2018

After the long first day, the teams returned on Friday morning to the Bucerius Law School to attend the final five presentations. The first team took us to Africa! BBS Burgdorf dealt with the topic “How to Strengthen the Economy in African Developing Countries”, which was proposed by Roland Dörn of the RWI Essen. The solution they came up was an app called “Ubatimu” – an app that should help African farmers, by simulation and gamification, to find the best possible crops and fertilisers for their land. Our experts, Martin Foth-Feldhusen of the GIZ and Holger Thiele of the University of Applied Science Kiel, were critical towards the approach for several reasons but also acknowledged the innovative format of the solution.

Second on stage was the Georg-Büchner-Gymnasium Berlin. By having an interactive presentation of their solution “RSMS – A Better indicator for Economic Forecasting”, the group kept the audience interested in their topic “Sense and Nonsense of Economic Forecasts:  Motivation and Methods for macroeconomic  Forecasts” by Ferdinand Fichtner of the DIW Berlin. Nora Hesse of the European Commission and Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist of the HSH Nordbank, both thought that the idea is a good step in the right direction. In a lively discussion, the team responded to the many questions by the audience.

Promoting financial inclusion: New policies and technological innovations through digital finance”, by Helke Seitz and Tim Kaiser of the DIW Berlin was the next topic on the table. The team of Berlin International School tackled this problem and came up with “Virgo – A Financial Ecosystem Reinventing Microfinance”. This system, based on an app, should enable people in developing countries to get access to finance more easily. Three experts joined the discussion, Cyrus de la Rubia, Nora Hesse and Thorsten Grenz of KIMBRIA. Quickly, an active debate evolved regarding the Virgo system, blockchain technology and microfinancing in general.

The last session before the lunch break circled around the topic “Promoting Digitisation in Business” by Jörg Ohnemus and Steffen Viete of ZEW Mannheim. The team Saarpfalz Gymnasium Homburg developed the concept of “M.I.T. – A Certificate for Digital Skills”, a system of training opportunities for employees. This session was moderated by Susan Djahangard, editor at “Die Zeit”, who welcomed Dagmar Balve-Hauff of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer of the Tallinn University of Technology. The experts agreed with the team that there is the need for a continuous qualification on the job, but they also saw an already established market in this field.

Ranking the solutions at the YES! is not easy, but takes a lot of discussions. Photo: (c) YES!

The final presentation of the YES! 2018 was about “The Facebook Business Model -You are the Product” by Cora-Wacker-Theodorakopolous and Timm Leinker of ZBW Leibniz Information Centre of Economics. The team of Gymnasium Wellingdorf asked themselves what kind of data has Facebook of each user. They used the options Facebook provides of downloading the user’s data and developed the concept of an app to visualise the data to understand more easily. The experts, Anne Riechert of Stiftung Datenschutz and Jil Sörensen of Hamburg Media School, pointed out how important it is to be sensible about the personal data and that such an app could undoubtedly improve the awareness.

Next, after the 1-minute-pitches of each team and a clear instruction on the voting procedures, the announcement of the winners was on the agenda.

Each team ranked the others and distributed 11 points to their favourite, 10 to the next and so on. And, as something new to the YES! in 2018, representatives of each team came to the stage to tell and explain, which team they ranked first. Excitingly, it showed that all the teams did a great job because a great variety of solutions was as the favourite solutions.

The three winning teams of 2018. Photo: (c) YES!

But not only the large numbers count. And so the winning teams finally were announced. Third place was the group Gesamtschule Waldbröl. The second was Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf, and the first place went to, drum roll please, Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim II.

After two long days at the final, four regional finals and more than half a year of working with the teams, the organising team of the YES! certainly is happy for the winners, but we also feel with the teams that didn’t make it to the top. However, we know that they worked hard. And the past years have shown to us, that you don’t need to be in the top 3 to have a great idea that can change something.

We thank all of the teams, the teachers, the research institutions and their scientists for their support throughout the year. We are looking forward to coming back again next year, even larger with the fifth region South-East and a true nationwide competition.

Your YES! team

Day 1 of the National Final 2018

September 27, 2018

Welcome to the YES! 2018

It’s the first day of this year’s final – a new location, teams from four different regions, two moderators and twelve solutions that have made it through the regional finals.

The teams prepared themselves with printouts of the solutions for the upcoming presentations. Photo: (c) YES!

Conny Czymoch and David Patrician, our moderators, gave a warm welcome to the participants and forwarded the greeting by Peter Altmaier, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, the patron of the YES!. In his written statement, he stressed the importance of the economic education for students and thanked all the scientists, teachers and students for the efforts and engagement.

To be the first team to come onto the stage is always tough, but the group of the Carl-Maria-von-Weber Gymnasium from Eutin did a great job promoting their idea. They had chosen the topic of “Why don’t they care? Nudges to improve willingness to help?” by Lena Detlefsen and Katharina Lima de Miranda from the IfW Kiel. Their idea focused on teaching younger children how to make the first response in case of an emergency. Their concept of a seal for schools to provide such seminars for their students was strongly supported by one of the experts, Bernd W. Böttiger. Prof Böttiger of the University Hospital of Cologne emphasised that such a concept has the potential – if properly implemented – to save thousands of lives each year. The second expert, Karsten Schmidt of the Roskilde University and an expert on nudging, indeed saw the potential as well, but also recommended some improvements on the nudging side of the project.

Second on stage was a team from the new region East. The Alfred-Nobel-Gesamtschule Potsdam wants to involve young school students in research. Their supporting scientist, Henry Sauermann of the ESMT Berlin, proposed the topic “Involving Citizens in Research: Improving Science and Society”. The team came up with the concept of an online platform, directed to teachers and students, that include citizen science projects that are suitable for using them at school. The two experts were Katrin Vohland of the Museum for Natural Science in Berlin and Ole Wintermann of the Bertelsmann Stiftung. They both recognised the positive elements of the idea immediately, but also recommended some improvements to benefit from the existing platforms.

Sustaining the World’s Oceans” by Christine Bertram of the IfW Kiel was the topic to talk about after the first break of the day. The team of the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Schule Neumünster introduced their booklet for children with some animal characters to teach young children how to behave correctly to prevent further pollution of the seas. Our experts for this session, Mirjam Steffensky from the IPN – Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, and Achim Lauber from the JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik, expressed their support for the booklet right away. They pointed out that such a brochure is not designed to solve a problem like the pollution of the oceans, but a good starting point to educating younger children and thus being an essential step in the right direction.

The team Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf discussed their solutions with our experts Wiebke Weger and Lars Müller. Photo: (c) YES!

The fourth proposal of the morning was presented by a team from the region South-West, Otto-Schott-Gymnasium Mainz-Gonsenheim:  “Citizen’s Assistant – Improve Efficiency in Public Administration”. The idea is a response to the challenge by Sebastian Blesse and Thomas Schwab of the ZEW called “eGoverning Germany: The future of public administration“. In a lively presentation, the group outlined their expectations for a service-oriented citizen service by the public administration. This time, three experts commented on the solution. Nuria Villanova of the OECD, Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer of the Tallinn University of Technology and Thomas Langkabel of the Initiative D21. They all supported the basic idea of making public services more available in a digital fashion but also agreed that it is a long way to go to do this change.

Next on stage after a relaxing lunch break was the team Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf. They tackled the problem of lack of trust in shopping reviews on the Internet, as described in the challenge “Transactions via the Internet – How can trust be built?” by the researchers Rebekka Rehm and Clemens Recker of the iwp Institute for Economic Policy at the University of Cologne. Their answer to this question is called “1Feedback”, a system that combines writing reviews of purchases across the Internet along with a gamification aspect and a reward system. The experts for this session were Wiebke Weger, an experienced and independent marketing expert, and Lars Müller, CEO of the marketing agency wigital. They were impressed by the presentation of the team, yet they also pointed out how difficult a project like this could be regarding data protection and the interchange between online shops.

New ways for a future-proof and generation-appropriate care” was the topic provided by Ingo Kolodziej of the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen. This was the task, and the team of Gesamtschule Waldbröl developed the concept of an online platform where young people get a bounty in various forms to help older adults. Karsten Schmidt of the Roskilde University and Juliane Zielonka of the Techniker Krankenkasse as experts on this topic quickly engaged in a discussion on the pros and cons of the proposal.

What a way to end a presentation on “High-Five”, the solution proposed by the Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim. Photo: (c) YES!

The final presentation of the first day was left for the team of Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim, and their topic was one that affects a large number of children: “How to combat child poverty and how can children and adolescents be best supported”, which was proposed by Holger Stichnoth of the ZEW Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim. The team presented their approach “High Five”, which includes activities at schools and the communities to support children that excluded from many activities because their families can’t afford them. The discussants, Dagmar Balve-Hauff of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sabine Hübgen of the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre and Achim Lauber of JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik, all agreed on the importance of a proposal like “High Five” and to put children in the focus of the project.

What a great Day 1 it was at the YES! 2018 National Final. We certainly enjoyed the presentations, the critical questions both from the experts and the audience and how the presenters found arguments to defend their idea.

We are looking forward to the Day 2 with the remaining five teams and the voting.

Stay tuned!

Gymnasium Wellingdorf (2015)

Reduction of Plastic Waste Through a Deposit System for Plastic Bags

1st place solution of the YES! 2015

Introduction
Our general topic is the “circular economy”, which is about making the world’s economy more sustainable. This is a very interesting, but also a complex and difficult topic. So we focused on one single aspect: The life cycle of the common plastic bag.

We live in a time where things that we use frequently have just a short life cycle, such as electronic devices or packages for food. Of course, we are able to recycle, for instance, paper-based materials, but there is especially one material that is mostly used in a linear and not in a circular way. Nowadays, plastic is one of the most used materials for every kind of product. But the fact that recycling plastic is very expensive, difficult and produces highly toxic gases, leads to a very low recycling rate for plastic, which lies under 25 per cent worldwide.

Many plastic bags are not disposed of professionally. So they pollute the land and oceans and are a danger for the ecosystem and the animals. Because of their chemical properties, plastic bags are bad bio-degradable to non-biodegradable. Marine animals, like seabirds, eat these plastic wastes (ex.: tortoises mistake the plastic bags for jellyfish and fish the little particles for plankton) and perish or become diseased.

Sometimes, the plastic reaches the human body again by consumption of marine animals, for example, cod. Other environmental impacts followed by using plastic are carbon dioxide emissions due to incinerators. We discussed how to use plastic in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way. Without a doubt, fixing the whole problem is impossible. But we want to make a big step forward by rethinking the usage of plastic bags.

Capabilities and measures

Plastic bags are cheap or free, light and resilient. That is why so many people all over the world are using them. However, they are just used one time before consumers are throwing them away and buy new ones, for instance, the next time they buy groceries.

The European Union adopted a law in 2015 that all members of the Union are allowed to prohibit the selling of plastic bags completely, to increase taxes on them, or to introduce binding reduction goals. These are maximal 90 plastic bags p. P./a till 31.12. 2019 and 40plastic bags p. P./a till 31.12. 2025. Germany has a consumption of 76 bags p. P./a. Until today, Germany did not change anything considering the usage of plastic bags even though
this topic is so important.

The first upcoming and simplest solution to this problem would be to prohibit selling plastic bags: everyone would be forced to use alternatives such as paper bags. But these alternatives are not as eco-friendly and convenient as they seem to be. On the one hand, paper bags are very sustainable because you can recycle them to make new ones. On the other hand, recycling those uses a lot of water and energy. Furthermore many customers consider them impractical.
So we thought about a new and different way to make the usage of plastic bags more
sustainable.

YES! Solution
There are three simple and common methods that can reduce the waste of plastic bags, we came up with:

1. Regulatory Law:

  • legal prohibition of non-recyclable plastics or
  • maximum amount of plastic bags per head in a year

The big advantage of using regulatory laws is that it is compulsory for both customers and producers. But, as stated earlier, a prohibition of non-recyclable plastics is not effective because highly recyclable one is still too expensive in production and for instance, paper bags are not as ecofriendly as one might think they are. Furthermore, it is difficult to control the maximal amount if plastic bags used by households in a single year.

2. Financial Incentives:

  • deposit or
  • taxation

To charge a deposit would stop the environmental pollution based on plastic bags thrown away because the customers would collect them and bring them back to the vendor to get back their money. On the downside, the overall amount of plastic bags would not necessarily decrease and the life cycle of the bags would remain the same.

The introduction of a tax on plastic bags can have beneficial outcomes, since the price of a single bag is higher than the amount of money a consumer is willing to pay. TheRepublic of Ireland is a good case study for the effectiveness of a tax on plastic bags:

In March 2002, a 15 €-Cent tax was levied on each plastic carrier bag purchased by customers in supermarkets. This measure led to a change in consumer’s behavior. One advantage was that consumers stopped using as many bags as they wanted and they were encouraged to reuse the plastic bags. The tax was a huge success. Within three months of the tax being introduced, the number of plastic bags that were handed out was reduced by 90 percent and after five months, 3.5 million € had been raised. This amount of money is used to supply an environmental fund, which finances recycling
infrastructure. On first of July, the tax was raised to 22 €-Cents. After this increase, the last supermarkets stopped selling plastic bags. The results are striking: there is not a single plastic carrier bag left in supermarkets and they all have been replaced by paper or reusable bags. So the Irish experience in the struggle against littering has proved so successful that other EU countries are now considering following their example. Some facts about the effectiveness of the tax: the proportion of plastic bags of the waste found in environment slumped from 5 percent to 0.22 percent. The administrative costs lay by about 3 percent of the income and are thereby very low. The reactions of the retailer and also of the customers were positive. The tax has a high acceptance in Ireland, because it was developed in close collaboration between politics and agents of the economy and customers.

3. Subsidisation for research in eco-friendly plastics
We think that fostering research in in ecofriendly plastics is one of the most important aspects when talking about decreasing plastic pollution in general. But our goal is to find a solution that could be realized in a short period of time. No one knows how long it will take to find the perfect material to replace the classic plastic.

Our YES!-Solution combines all three methods to a single one that takes advantage of the strength of each concept and combines them.
The goal is to establish a more robust plastic bag which has got a significantly longer working life, if used properly. On the plastic bags are signs of deposit, similar to the one on the PET bottles. The deposit amounts are a large part of the purchase price, so if the plastic bags are being returned, there will be only minimal costs for the user. Those plastic bags will be used again. In order to prevent the consumer from buying the current plastic bags, a drastic price increase is needed, to make the usage of the robust plastic bag more attractive. In the long run, the single-usage-plastic-bags will be banned completely by law.

The producers of the plastic bags are responsible for the production and recycling of the new bag. Taking back the plastic bags and paying out of the deposit lies in the responsibility of commerce, as known from returnable bottles. The usage of the robust plastic bags can be one important part of a sustainable and green business strategy implemented by retailers.
The retailers, including supermarkets and fashion stores, can choose an individual design to communicate their corporate social responsibility. Apart from that, there are still alternatives to plastic bags, for example, recycled paper bags or consumers bring and use their own baskets or cotton bags.

Conclusion
Overall, the solution comprises the adoption of the deposit system of PET bottles. For simplicity, we suggest a deposit of 25 €-Cents per plastic bag, like the deposit for bottles. Single-usage-plastic-bags and paper bags have to be taxed by the same amount so the retailers have an incentive to switch to the new deposit system. The retailers have the choice of paying the tax or using the newly developed plastic bags and introducing the deposit system. The revenues of the tax can be used to subsidize the research of alternative materials like ecofriendly plastics.

As a new and better plastic bag, we have found a fold-up reusable carrying bag made of polyester. It is a particularly, intelligent and ecofriendly bag which is very robust and can carry about 10 kilograms. The customer can fold the plastic bag to the size of a package of handkerchiefs after using and poke it into an attached fastener bag. The bag only weighs 31 grams, not more than a normal plastic bag.

Our solution is simple but not as easy to implement, since the infrastructure for it has to be established. Especially Germany has to be a pioneer in environmental protection. Its exemplary function will lead many other countries, even outside the EU, to make an effort to fight against the pollution by plastic. Oil is limited and plastic loses its quality when it is recycled too often. Unfortunately, a totally environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bags does not exist right now. One of the main points of this project is that the customers understand the necessity to decrease the amount
of plastic used in packaging, bags, etc. in general. The described process is lengthy, especially when it comes to organizations, but it is worthwhile because it ensures the environmental protection in the long run.
To get an impression how people might react on the introduction of a deposit system for plastic bags, one can draw on the experiences made after the introduction of a deposit system for PET bottles. At first, the deposit return was not used as much as estimated. This was due to a bad system that was not well thought through and led to confusion on how and where the bottles should be returned. After the current system was introduced, the deposit
returns increased rapidly because it became a lot easier. You can return all of your bottles marked as deposit bottles in every store where they are sold. In 2006 about 20 percent of the bottles were not returned and thrown away. Today´s numbers show that only 5 percent of the deposit bottles are not returned. From 2009 to 2012, the percentage of sold disposable glass bottles increased only by 0.9 percent, disposable PET bottles by 13.1 percent and cans (up to 1 liter) by 63.8 percent. Only the numbers of returnable glass bottles sold decreased by 4.1 percent. So we see that the German population is willing to return their bottles if there is a simple, universal system. Other examples around the world show the same statistics. Countries like Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, 14 States of the USA and two Australian States have similar systems. This experience makes us confident, that a deposit system for plastic bags will also be accepted by customers.

Literature
Convery, Frank, Simon McDonnell, Susana Ferreira (2007); “The most popular tax in
Europe? Lessons from the Irish plastic bags levy.”; in: Environmental and Resource
Economics. Nr.38, 2007, S.1–11
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015); “Growth Within: A Circular Economy Vision for a
Competitive Europe”; Ellen MacArthur Foundation; McKinsey Center for Business and
Environment; 2015
Magdoff, Fred (2013); “Global Resource Depletion – Is Population the Problem?”; Monthly
Review, Volume 64, Issue 08, 2013
Nedbank Sustainability Outlook (2013); “The Limited Earth Problem”
Oberhuber, Nadine (2013); „Die Plastiktüte ist besser als ihr Ruf“; Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung, 31.03.2013
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/finanzen/meine-finanzen/geldausgeben/
nachrichten/einkaufstueten-die-plastiktuete-ist-besser-als-ihr-ruf-12870192.html
Rosling, Hans (2010); “The Magic Washing Machine”

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine?language=en

Deutsche Umwelthilfe; „Zahlen und Fakten zu Plastiktüten“
http://www.duh.de/3711.html
Let’s talk Plastics (2011); „Plastiktüten oder Papiertüten“; Let’s talk Plastics 01.07.2011
http://letstalkplastics.com/de/facts/plastikt-ten-oder-papiert-ten
WWF Jugend (2014); „Kommt nicht in die Tüte – Plastikmüll”; Thema Plastikmüll: Aktuelle
Artikel
http://www.wwf-jugend.de/durchstarten/stoppt-den-plastikmuell/artikel/kommt-nicht-in-dietuete-
plastiktueten;6446
Mehrweg.org; “Häufig gestellte Fragen”
http://www.mehrweg.org/faq/

Photo: YES!

Day 2 of the National Final 2018

September 28, 2018

After the long first day, the teams returned on Friday morning to the Bucerius Law School to attend the final five presentations. The first team took us to Africa! BBS Burgdorf dealt with the topic “How to Strengthen the Economy in African Developing Countries”, which was proposed by Roland Dörn of the RWI Essen. The solution they came up was an app called “Ubatimu” – an app that should help African farmers, by simulation and gamification, to find the best possible crops and fertilisers for their land. Our experts, Martin Foth-Feldhusen of the GIZ and Holger Thiele of the University of Applied Science Kiel, were critical towards the approach for several reasons but also acknowledged the innovative format of the solution.

Second on stage was the Georg-Büchner-Gymnasium Berlin. By having an interactive presentation of their solution “RSMS – A Better indicator for Economic Forecasting”, the group kept the audience interested in their topic “Sense and Nonsense of Economic Forecasts:  Motivation and Methods for macroeconomic  Forecasts” by Ferdinand Fichtner of the DIW Berlin. Nora Hesse of the European Commission and Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist of the HSH Nordbank, both thought that the idea is a good step in the right direction. In a lively discussion, the team responded to the many questions by the audience.

Promoting financial inclusion: New policies and technological innovations through digital finance”, by Helke Seitz and Tim Kaiser of the DIW Berlin was the next topic on the table. The team of Berlin International School tackled this problem and came up with “Virgo – A Financial Ecosystem Reinventing Microfinance”. This system, based on an app, should enable people in developing countries to get access to finance more easily. Three experts joined the discussion, Cyrus de la Rubia, Nora Hesse and Thorsten Grenz of KIMBRIA. Quickly, an active debate evolved regarding the Virgo system, blockchain technology and microfinancing in general.

The last session before the lunch break circled around the topic “Promoting Digitisation in Business” by Jörg Ohnemus and Steffen Viete of ZEW Mannheim. The team Saarpfalz Gymnasium Homburg developed the concept of “M.I.T. – A Certificate for Digital Skills”, a system of training opportunities for employees. This session was moderated by Susan Djahangard, editor at “Die Zeit”, who welcomed Dagmar Balve-Hauff of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer of the Tallinn University of Technology. The experts agreed with the team that there is the need for a continuous qualification on the job, but they also saw an already established market in this field.

Ranking the solutions at the YES! is not easy, but takes a lot of discussions. Photo: (c) YES!

The final presentation of the YES! 2018 was about “The Facebook Business Model -You are the Product” by Cora-Wacker-Theodorakopolous and Timm Leinker of ZBW Leibniz Information Centre of Economics. The team of Gymnasium Wellingdorf asked themselves what kind of data has Facebook of each user. They used the options Facebook provides of downloading the user’s data and developed the concept of an app to visualise the data to understand more easily. The experts, Anne Riechert of Stiftung Datenschutz and Jil Sörensen of Hamburg Media School, pointed out how important it is to be sensible about the personal data and that such an app could undoubtedly improve the awareness.

Next, after the 1-minute-pitches of each team and a clear instruction on the voting procedures, the announcement of the winners was on the agenda.

Each team ranked the others and distributed 11 points to their favourite, 10 to the next and so on. And, as something new to the YES! in 2018, representatives of each team came to the stage to tell and explain, which team they ranked first. Excitingly, it showed that all the teams did a great job because a great variety of solutions was as the favourite solutions.

The three winning teams of 2018. Photo: (c) YES!

But not only the large numbers count. And so the winning teams finally were announced. Third place was the group Gesamtschule Waldbröl. The second was Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf, and the first place went to, drum roll please, Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim II.

After two long days at the final, four regional finals and more than half a year of working with the teams, the organising team of the YES! certainly is happy for the winners, but we also feel with the teams that didn’t make it to the top. However, we know that they worked hard. And the past years have shown to us, that you don’t need to be in the top 3 to have a great idea that can change something.

We thank all of the teams, the teachers, the research institutions and their scientists for their support throughout the year. We are looking forward to coming back again next year, even larger with the fifth region South-East and a true nationwide competition.

Your YES! team

Day 1 of the National Final 2018

September 27, 2018

Welcome to the YES! 2018

It’s the first day of this year’s final – a new location, teams from four different regions, two moderators and twelve solutions that have made it through the regional finals.

The teams prepared themselves with printouts of the solutions for the upcoming presentations. Photo: (c) YES!

Conny Czymoch and David Patrician, our moderators, gave a warm welcome to the participants and forwarded the greeting by Peter Altmaier, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, the patron of the YES!. In his written statement, he stressed the importance of the economic education for students and thanked all the scientists, teachers and students for the efforts and engagement.

To be the first team to come onto the stage is always tough, but the group of the Carl-Maria-von-Weber Gymnasium from Eutin did a great job promoting their idea. They had chosen the topic of “Why don’t they care? Nudges to improve willingness to help?” by Lena Detlefsen and Katharina Lima de Miranda from the IfW Kiel. Their idea focused on teaching younger children how to make the first response in case of an emergency. Their concept of a seal for schools to provide such seminars for their students was strongly supported by one of the experts, Bernd W. Böttiger. Prof Böttiger of the University Hospital of Cologne emphasised that such a concept has the potential – if properly implemented – to save thousands of lives each year. The second expert, Karsten Schmidt of the Roskilde University and an expert on nudging, indeed saw the potential as well, but also recommended some improvements on the nudging side of the project.

Second on stage was a team from the new region East. The Alfred-Nobel-Gesamtschule Potsdam wants to involve young school students in research. Their supporting scientist, Henry Sauermann of the ESMT Berlin, proposed the topic “Involving Citizens in Research: Improving Science and Society”. The team came up with the concept of an online platform, directed to teachers and students, that include citizen science projects that are suitable for using them at school. The two experts were Katrin Vohland of the Museum for Natural Science in Berlin and Ole Wintermann of the Bertelsmann Stiftung. They both recognised the positive elements of the idea immediately, but also recommended some improvements to benefit from the existing platforms.

Sustaining the World’s Oceans” by Christine Bertram of the IfW Kiel was the topic to talk about after the first break of the day. The team of the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Schule Neumünster introduced their booklet for children with some animal characters to teach young children how to behave correctly to prevent further pollution of the seas. Our experts for this session, Mirjam Steffensky from the IPN – Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, and Achim Lauber from the JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik, expressed their support for the booklet right away. They pointed out that such a brochure is not designed to solve a problem like the pollution of the oceans, but a good starting point to educating younger children and thus being an essential step in the right direction.

The team Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf discussed their solutions with our experts Wiebke Weger and Lars Müller. Photo: (c) YES!

The fourth proposal of the morning was presented by a team from the region South-West, Otto-Schott-Gymnasium Mainz-Gonsenheim:  “Citizen’s Assistant – Improve Efficiency in Public Administration”. The idea is a response to the challenge by Sebastian Blesse and Thomas Schwab of the ZEW called “eGoverning Germany: The future of public administration“. In a lively presentation, the group outlined their expectations for a service-oriented citizen service by the public administration. This time, three experts commented on the solution. Nuria Villanova of the OECD, Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer of the Tallinn University of Technology and Thomas Langkabel of the Initiative D21. They all supported the basic idea of making public services more available in a digital fashion but also agreed that it is a long way to go to do this change.

Next on stage after a relaxing lunch break was the team Cecilien-Gymnasium Düsseldorf. They tackled the problem of lack of trust in shopping reviews on the Internet, as described in the challenge “Transactions via the Internet – How can trust be built?” by the researchers Rebekka Rehm and Clemens Recker of the iwp Institute for Economic Policy at the University of Cologne. Their answer to this question is called “1Feedback”, a system that combines writing reviews of purchases across the Internet along with a gamification aspect and a reward system. The experts for this session were Wiebke Weger, an experienced and independent marketing expert, and Lars Müller, CEO of the marketing agency wigital. They were impressed by the presentation of the team, yet they also pointed out how difficult a project like this could be regarding data protection and the interchange between online shops.

New ways for a future-proof and generation-appropriate care” was the topic provided by Ingo Kolodziej of the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen. This was the task, and the team of Gesamtschule Waldbröl developed the concept of an online platform where young people get a bounty in various forms to help older adults. Karsten Schmidt of the Roskilde University and Juliane Zielonka of the Techniker Krankenkasse as experts on this topic quickly engaged in a discussion on the pros and cons of the proposal.

What a way to end a presentation on “High-Five”, the solution proposed by the Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim. Photo: (c) YES!

The final presentation of the first day was left for the team of Fritz-Erler-Schule Pforzheim, and their topic was one that affects a large number of children: “How to combat child poverty and how can children and adolescents be best supported”, which was proposed by Holger Stichnoth of the ZEW Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim. The team presented their approach “High Five”, which includes activities at schools and the communities to support children that excluded from many activities because their families can’t afford them. The discussants, Dagmar Balve-Hauff of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sabine Hübgen of the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre and Achim Lauber of JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik, all agreed on the importance of a proposal like “High Five” and to put children in the focus of the project.

What a great Day 1 it was at the YES! 2018 National Final. We certainly enjoyed the presentations, the critical questions both from the experts and the audience and how the presenters found arguments to defend their idea.

We are looking forward to the Day 2 with the remaining five teams and the voting.

Stay tuned!

Gymnasium Wellingdorf (2015)

Reduction of Plastic Waste Through a Deposit System for Plastic Bags

1st place solution of the YES! 2015

Introduction
Our general topic is the “circular economy”, which is about making the world’s economy more sustainable. This is a very interesting, but also a complex and difficult topic. So we focused on one single aspect: The life cycle of the common plastic bag.

We live in a time where things that we use frequently have just a short life cycle, such as electronic devices or packages for food. Of course, we are able to recycle, for instance, paper-based materials, but there is especially one material that is mostly used in a linear and not in a circular way. Nowadays, plastic is one of the most used materials for every kind of product. But the fact that recycling plastic is very expensive, difficult and produces highly toxic gases, leads to a very low recycling rate for plastic, which lies under 25 per cent worldwide.

Many plastic bags are not disposed of professionally. So they pollute the land and oceans and are a danger for the ecosystem and the animals. Because of their chemical properties, plastic bags are bad bio-degradable to non-biodegradable. Marine animals, like seabirds, eat these plastic wastes (ex.: tortoises mistake the plastic bags for jellyfish and fish the little particles for plankton) and perish or become diseased.

Sometimes, the plastic reaches the human body again by consumption of marine animals, for example, cod. Other environmental impacts followed by using plastic are carbon dioxide emissions due to incinerators. We discussed how to use plastic in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way. Without a doubt, fixing the whole problem is impossible. But we want to make a big step forward by rethinking the usage of plastic bags.

Capabilities and measures

Plastic bags are cheap or free, light and resilient. That is why so many people all over the world are using them. However, they are just used one time before consumers are throwing them away and buy new ones, for instance, the next time they buy groceries.

The European Union adopted a law in 2015 that all members of the Union are allowed to prohibit the selling of plastic bags completely, to increase taxes on them, or to introduce binding reduction goals. These are maximal 90 plastic bags p. P./a till 31.12. 2019 and 40plastic bags p. P./a till 31.12. 2025. Germany has a consumption of 76 bags p. P./a. Until today, Germany did not change anything considering the usage of plastic bags even though
this topic is so important.

The first upcoming and simplest solution to this problem would be to prohibit selling plastic bags: everyone would be forced to use alternatives such as paper bags. But these alternatives are not as eco-friendly and convenient as they seem to be. On the one hand, paper bags are very sustainable because you can recycle them to make new ones. On the other hand, recycling those uses a lot of water and energy. Furthermore many customers consider them impractical.
So we thought about a new and different way to make the usage of plastic bags more
sustainable.

YES! Solution
There are three simple and common methods that can reduce the waste of plastic bags, we came up with:

1. Regulatory Law:

  • legal prohibition of non-recyclable plastics or
  • maximum amount of plastic bags per head in a year

The big advantage of using regulatory laws is that it is compulsory for both customers and producers. But, as stated earlier, a prohibition of non-recyclable plastics is not effective because highly recyclable one is still too expensive in production and for instance, paper bags are not as ecofriendly as one might think they are. Furthermore, it is difficult to control the maximal amount if plastic bags used by households in a single year.

2. Financial Incentives:

  • deposit or
  • taxation

To charge a deposit would stop the environmental pollution based on plastic bags thrown away because the customers would collect them and bring them back to the vendor to get back their money. On the downside, the overall amount of plastic bags would not necessarily decrease and the life cycle of the bags would remain the same.

The introduction of a tax on plastic bags can have beneficial outcomes, since the price of a single bag is higher than the amount of money a consumer is willing to pay. TheRepublic of Ireland is a good case study for the effectiveness of a tax on plastic bags:

In March 2002, a 15 €-Cent tax was levied on each plastic carrier bag purchased by customers in supermarkets. This measure led to a change in consumer’s behavior. One advantage was that consumers stopped using as many bags as they wanted and they were encouraged to reuse the plastic bags. The tax was a huge success. Within three months of the tax being introduced, the number of plastic bags that were handed out was reduced by 90 percent and after five months, 3.5 million € had been raised. This amount of money is used to supply an environmental fund, which finances recycling
infrastructure. On first of July, the tax was raised to 22 €-Cents. After this increase, the last supermarkets stopped selling plastic bags. The results are striking: there is not a single plastic carrier bag left in supermarkets and they all have been replaced by paper or reusable bags. So the Irish experience in the struggle against littering has proved so successful that other EU countries are now considering following their example. Some facts about the effectiveness of the tax: the proportion of plastic bags of the waste found in environment slumped from 5 percent to 0.22 percent. The administrative costs lay by about 3 percent of the income and are thereby very low. The reactions of the retailer and also of the customers were positive. The tax has a high acceptance in Ireland, because it was developed in close collaboration between politics and agents of the economy and customers.

3. Subsidisation for research in eco-friendly plastics
We think that fostering research in in ecofriendly plastics is one of the most important aspects when talking about decreasing plastic pollution in general. But our goal is to find a solution that could be realized in a short period of time. No one knows how long it will take to find the perfect material to replace the classic plastic.

Our YES!-Solution combines all three methods to a single one that takes advantage of the strength of each concept and combines them.
The goal is to establish a more robust plastic bag which has got a significantly longer working life, if used properly. On the plastic bags are signs of deposit, similar to the one on the PET bottles. The deposit amounts are a large part of the purchase price, so if the plastic bags are being returned, there will be only minimal costs for the user. Those plastic bags will be used again. In order to prevent the consumer from buying the current plastic bags, a drastic price increase is needed, to make the usage of the robust plastic bag more attractive. In the long run, the single-usage-plastic-bags will be banned completely by law.

The producers of the plastic bags are responsible for the production and recycling of the new bag. Taking back the plastic bags and paying out of the deposit lies in the responsibility of commerce, as known from returnable bottles. The usage of the robust plastic bags can be one important part of a sustainable and green business strategy implemented by retailers.
The retailers, including supermarkets and fashion stores, can choose an individual design to communicate their corporate social responsibility. Apart from that, there are still alternatives to plastic bags, for example, recycled paper bags or consumers bring and use their own baskets or cotton bags.

Conclusion
Overall, the solution comprises the adoption of the deposit system of PET bottles. For simplicity, we suggest a deposit of 25 €-Cents per plastic bag, like the deposit for bottles. Single-usage-plastic-bags and paper bags have to be taxed by the same amount so the retailers have an incentive to switch to the new deposit system. The retailers have the choice of paying the tax or using the newly developed plastic bags and introducing the deposit system. The revenues of the tax can be used to subsidize the research of alternative materials like ecofriendly plastics.

As a new and better plastic bag, we have found a fold-up reusable carrying bag made of polyester. It is a particularly, intelligent and ecofriendly bag which is very robust and can carry about 10 kilograms. The customer can fold the plastic bag to the size of a package of handkerchiefs after using and poke it into an attached fastener bag. The bag only weighs 31 grams, not more than a normal plastic bag.

Our solution is simple but not as easy to implement, since the infrastructure for it has to be established. Especially Germany has to be a pioneer in environmental protection. Its exemplary function will lead many other countries, even outside the EU, to make an effort to fight against the pollution by plastic. Oil is limited and plastic loses its quality when it is recycled too often. Unfortunately, a totally environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bags does not exist right now. One of the main points of this project is that the customers understand the necessity to decrease the amount
of plastic used in packaging, bags, etc. in general. The described process is lengthy, especially when it comes to organizations, but it is worthwhile because it ensures the environmental protection in the long run.
To get an impression how people might react on the introduction of a deposit system for plastic bags, one can draw on the experiences made after the introduction of a deposit system for PET bottles. At first, the deposit return was not used as much as estimated. This was due to a bad system that was not well thought through and led to confusion on how and where the bottles should be returned. After the current system was introduced, the deposit
returns increased rapidly because it became a lot easier. You can return all of your bottles marked as deposit bottles in every store where they are sold. In 2006 about 20 percent of the bottles were not returned and thrown away. Today´s numbers show that only 5 percent of the deposit bottles are not returned. From 2009 to 2012, the percentage of sold disposable glass bottles increased only by 0.9 percent, disposable PET bottles by 13.1 percent and cans (up to 1 liter) by 63.8 percent. Only the numbers of returnable glass bottles sold decreased by 4.1 percent. So we see that the German population is willing to return their bottles if there is a simple, universal system. Other examples around the world show the same statistics. Countries like Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, 14 States of the USA and two Australian States have similar systems. This experience makes us confident, that a deposit system for plastic bags will also be accepted by customers.

Literature
Convery, Frank, Simon McDonnell, Susana Ferreira (2007); “The most popular tax in
Europe? Lessons from the Irish plastic bags levy.”; in: Environmental and Resource
Economics. Nr.38, 2007, S.1–11
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015); “Growth Within: A Circular Economy Vision for a
Competitive Europe”; Ellen MacArthur Foundation; McKinsey Center for Business and
Environment; 2015
Magdoff, Fred (2013); “Global Resource Depletion – Is Population the Problem?”; Monthly
Review, Volume 64, Issue 08, 2013
Nedbank Sustainability Outlook (2013); “The Limited Earth Problem”
Oberhuber, Nadine (2013); „Die Plastiktüte ist besser als ihr Ruf“; Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung, 31.03.2013
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/finanzen/meine-finanzen/geldausgeben/
nachrichten/einkaufstueten-die-plastiktuete-ist-besser-als-ihr-ruf-12870192.html
Rosling, Hans (2010); “The Magic Washing Machine”

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine?language=en

Deutsche Umwelthilfe; „Zahlen und Fakten zu Plastiktüten“
http://www.duh.de/3711.html
Let’s talk Plastics (2011); „Plastiktüten oder Papiertüten“; Let’s talk Plastics 01.07.2011
http://letstalkplastics.com/de/facts/plastikt-ten-oder-papiert-ten
WWF Jugend (2014); „Kommt nicht in die Tüte – Plastikmüll”; Thema Plastikmüll: Aktuelle
Artikel
http://www.wwf-jugend.de/durchstarten/stoppt-den-plastikmuell/artikel/kommt-nicht-in-dietuete-
plastiktueten;6446
Mehrweg.org; “Häufig gestellte Fragen”
http://www.mehrweg.org/faq/

Photo: YES!