American Univesity of Beirut

Students present solutions to the plastic epidemic at this year’s IBDAA

​Sally Abou Melhem <> Office of Communications

In its thirteenth edition, the International Biodiversity Day at AUB (IBDAA)  took place on April 12, 2019, engaging students with questions about our current lifestyles and the environment, especially the usage of plastic in daily life. 

Since 2018, this forum has gone national, attracting participants from several universities all around the country. Focused on practical learning, IBDAA serves to highlight unconventional approaches towards addressing environmental threats and is led by AUB’s Nature Conservation Center (AUB-NCC)

Undergraduate students from five universities around Lebanon pooled their innovation and creativity to showcase their ability to come up with eco-friendly solutions capable of fixing plastic-related environmental problems. In addition to AUB, participating universities included the Lebanese American University, Notre Dame University–Louaize (NDU), the Lebanese University, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, and the University of Saint Joseph.

“We witnessed on IBDAA day one of the most crowded IBDAA events ever.  Students from five different universities agreed on the need to ‘Rethink Plastic’ and were able with their creative projects to change minds and provide solutions,” said Dr. Najat Saliba, director of NCC.

In the poster forum, 125 projects were presented, and 352 students participated in five different categories for a chance to be one of the ten projects to win first and second prizes. The first-prize winners received $2,000, and the second-prize winners received $1,000. Forty jurors from the academic, public, and private sector participated in the selection process.

The winning projectsibdaa

Winners of the arts category’s first prize from NDU targeted the daily use of plastic packaging in food deliveries, aiming to reduce the use of plastic cutleries through the Cut the Cutleries project. Students from the Lebanese University introduced a project entitled Sushi Platter that won the second prize in the same category. The project presented a sushi platter made out of plastic, and conveyed a powerful message that plastic is non-biodegradable and is polluting the sea and the fish that we eat. 

Winners of the business category were AUB students who presented the limits of the use of plastic cutleries through the introduction of edible cutleries, which won the first prize. Another team from AUB manufactured a 100% biodegradable plastic, which won them the second prize. 

Innovative products were presented in the product conceptualization and design category as AUB students created Srush, a biodegradable toothbrush with replaceable bristles and incorporated toothpaste, which received the first prize in this category. NDU students, winners of the second prize, also revived the quill to replace plastic pens that are massively used on a daily basis. 

Only one prize was presented to the participants in the policy formulation category, to a team of students from the Lebanese University who advocated for the creation of an eco-garden in their university. This outdoor space is made out of eco-friendly and recycled material. 

Finally, the research with intervention category had three winners. AUB students, who presented respectively PlasChick biodegradable plastic from chicken feathers, and an alternative for the use of plastic bags in supermarkets by replacing them with banana leaf bags, won the first and second prizes. The third placed winners were LAU students who assessed the use of plastic in laboratories aiming to find an alternative to single use plastics. 

An award ceremony followed the forum, where event host Ghayd Chammas, known as El 3ama, amused the audience with his humor and offered giveaways.

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