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Sustainable Solutions Challenge: Confronting Our Consumption of Single-Use Plastic Bottles

We need innovative, sustainable solutions

Students from all majors are invited to enter the Sustainable Solutions Challenge and pitch their best ideas for addressing the problems associated with the consumption of single-use plastic bottles on campus. The team with the winning proposal will be awarded $500 per team member and will be invited to work on the implementation of their solution. 

Registration opens on February 3. Teams that register by February 12 will be emailed the Problem Statement before February 13. You can also read the problem statement below. 

This is a team challenge, with teams composed of a minimum of two with a maximum of four members. Initial written proposals are due by March 2, see Step 2 below for submission details. From there, a number of teams will be selected to move on to the preliminary presentation phase on April 8. We will be selecting three finalist teams to present virtually to a panel of faculty and staff on April 15 at 4:30. The strongest proposals will address the University's environmental stewardship goals as well as the economic priorities of catering and dining locations.

Interested students are invited to attend the free screening of "Drowning in Plastic" at 6:00 on February 10 in the Robins School of Business Ukrop Auditorium to learn more about the global environmental problems posed by plastic. 

Please read the full directions and learn more about challenges surrounding single-use plastic bottles at University of Richmond in the resources linked below.

Step 1: Register Your Team February 3-12

Registration is open between February 3 and February 12. Teams may have a minimum of two and a maximum of four members. 

Please designate one member as your team contact. While information will be sent out to all team members, we ask that your team contact be the only person asking questions and submitting team materials.

After you have registered, you will receive the Problem Statement via email on February 10. Teams will be invited to attend a Stakeholder Forum from 4:00 to 6:00 on February 25 in THC 305 to speak with staff from Facilities, Dining Services, and the Office for Sustainability to learn more about their experiences with single-use plastic bottles on campus. 

Step 2: Written Proposals Due March 2

A written description of your solution specifically addressing how and to what extent your solution impacts the economic, social and environmental aspects of SPB consumption must be submitted by 11:59 pm on March 2, 2020 to in Word format as an attachment. We are looking for creative solutions that are grounded in facts, provide the estimated cost of implementation, the estimated impact on SPB consumption and/or reuse/recycling and can be implemented on campus.  A strong solution will include specific information on  how your solution would be implemented, the stakeholders involved in implementation, challenges you anticipate with implementation and how those challenges could be overcome. 

View the full evaluation rubric here. 

Your written solution should be no more than five pages (12-font, double spaced, you may include appendices which are not included in the 5-page count). Teams selected to move on to the second round will have the opportunity to provide an oral and visual presentation of their proposed solution on March 25, 2020 at 4:30.   


Criteria for Judging

Impact on triple bottom line – economic, environmental, social. Learn more about the University's definition of sustainability here

Fact-based solutions – citations, reputable work, other schools

Cost of implementation

Impact on single use plastic bottle consumption, including reuse/recycling – expected decrease in bottle numbers, process

Implement-ability – consider timeframe, cost, culture, staffing

How the solution will be implemented clearly explained

Identified affected stakeholders and the impact on them

Anticipated challenges

Strategies for overcoming challenges

Length & Format

Step 3: Preliminary Presentations April 8

Preliminary finalists will be invited to virtually present their proposed solution on April 8 at 3:00 to the following panel members: 
-Emily Boone: Director of Biological Instruction
-Scott Lincoln: Manager, Custodial and Environmental Services
-Abdul Qadeer Rehan: Office for Sustainability Intern
-Joyce van der Laan Smith: Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, Associate Professor of Accounting in the Robins School of Business
-Maya Vincelli: Assistant Director, Retail Operations
-Josh Wroniewicz: Director, Purchasing, Campus Services

Step 4: Final Presentations April 15

On April 15 at 4:30, three finalist teams will virtually present their propsed solutions to the following panel:
-Rob Andrejewski: Director of Sustainability
-Terry Baker: Executive Director, Campus Dining
-Sharon Baxter: Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
-Reilly Geritz: UR '20
-Carol Parish: Floyd D. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald Professor of Chemistry and Associate Provost for Academic Integration
-Mickey Quiñones: Dean, Robins School of Business, Professor of Management
-Patrice Rankine: Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Classics

A reception will follow the presentations. 

Problem Statement

You can read the full Problem Statement here

Supporting Resources

You can explore various supporting resources below. 

Problem Statement

University of Richmond Stakeholder Interviews
-Dr. Ronald Crutcher, President of the University of Richmond (Coming Soon)
-Dr. Rob Andrejewski, Director of Sustainability        
-University of Richmond Dining Services
     -Terry Baker, Executive Director of Dining Services
     -Josh Wroniewicz, Director of Purchasing      
     -Maya Vincelli, Assistant Director of Retail Operations         
     -Joe Wolff, Director of Catering     
     -Eliot Cleveland, Manager of EveryThingConvenience (ETC)        
-County Waste (University of Richmond’s Recycling Provider)   
     -John Childress, Sales Manager of Virginia
-University of Richmond Custodial and Environmental Services 
     -Scott Lincoln, Manager of Custodial and Environmental Services 
-University of Richmond Students
     -Andre Eanes, GreenUR Club President        
     -Reusable Water Bottle Users         
     -Single Use Plastic Bottle Purchasers           

Evaluation Rubric

Intro to Sustainability Presentation

Helpful Events

You are invited to attend the following events to learn more about single-use plastics and their impacts on people and the environment: 

RVA Environmental Film Festival
February 10
Snacks and Tabling: 5:00-6:00
Film Screening: 6:00-7:30
Panel Discussion: 7:30-8:30
Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium

Sustainable Solutions Challenge Stakeholder Forum
February 25
THC 305

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I wear for the presentations?
Please dress in professional attire. 

After my team is registered, can I change my team members?
No, all team members are finalized at the time of registration. 

Can I have an extension on my submission?
Because of the busy schedule of our panelists reviewing submissions, all due dates are final. 

Do I have to attend the Stakeholder Forum on February 25?
No, you are not required to attend. However, we encourage you to come and learn about the issue of single-use plastic bottles from the stakeholders who will be present.

If I have a question for a member of the Dining Services team or any other stakeholder how should I contact them?
You may ask questions of the stakeholders, including members of the Dining Services team, at the Stakeholder Forum on February 25 in THC 305 from 4 – 6pm. Dining Services representatives and other staff groups are not available to answer individual team questions due to their work commitments. Please plan to have a team member or members attend the Stakeholder Forum. Stakeholders and faculty members will be available to answer questions at that time. 

Sustainable Solutions Challenge Partners