Designing a Credit Market for Stormwater Management

Heavy rains and flood waters flow across the impervious surfaces of roads and parking lots. That flow pushes pollution on those surfaces–plastic bottles, cigarette butts, motor oil–into stormwater management systems. That pollution then dumps into lakes and streams. This system is how so much plastic ends up in our oceans.

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Innovative Pricing Turns Plastic Into Transit

It’s a different way to pay with plastic — bottles instead of credit cards. Cities like Beijing, Istanbul, Sydney, and Surabaya let you pay public transit fares with recyclable plastic. Innovative transit pricing is one way that public and social sector marketers achieve multiple goals at once.

The idea is pretty simple. Insert recyclable plastic bottles into a fare machine and get credit to use towards transit fares. This system assigns real value to recycling. That value provides an incentive for people to reduce their waste stream, their carbon footprint, and urban congestion.

Some of the cities limit recycling payment to just bus fares. According to this Facebook video from the World Economic Forum, Istanbul puts the recycling credit on your Metro card, which is good for all forms of public transit throughout Europe’s largest city by area.

Sydney uses “reverse vending machines” to give recyclers rewards that can be used outside of bus fare, like for movie tickets.

As I wrote in a previous post, most plastic pollution in the Pacific Oceans comes from just a few rivers in Asia. Using innovative transit pricing to turn waste plastic into value in large Asian cities like Beijing, Sydney and Surabaya helps divert waste from polluting our oceans.

Case Study in Nonprofit Healthcare: Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative

nonprofit healthcare accelerates drug development while lowering costs

For social goods like health care, the buyer and the end consumer are often two different parties.  In much of health care, an insurance company or a government agency is the buyer, while the individual patient is the end consumer. At least in the United States, for-profit medicine companies exploit this split. They charge large organizations much higher prices than an individual consumer could afford. At the same time, they obscure the price of urgent treatments from patients. One way to avoid this exploitation is using nonprofit healthcare models.

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Data-driven Design for Transportation Infrastructure Saves Lives

Roundabouts are one example of data-driven design for transportation infrastructure

According to U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 47 percent of fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. occur in urban areas, resulting in nearly 15,000 deaths per year. That’s more than 40 people dying each day on urban roadways.  If there was a data-driven design for transportation infrastructure that saved lives, shouldn’t we implement it? Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows traffic roundabouts reduce the number and severity of accidents.

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Building Quality Infrastructure for the Social Good

Building quality infrastructure

Critics of government spending claim that building quality infrastructure for the social good is not affordable. Focus on utility and low cost, they say. No need for grand stone building with imposing facades. Their concerns touch on two core marketing topics, design and pricing.

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The Power of Pricing: Paying for Public Infrastructure

paying for infrastructure

In their recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave US infrastructure a grade of D+.  ASCE also said bad infrastructure costs U.S. households $9 per day in higher prices, poor service, repairs, and wasted time. For just $3 per day, they say we could fix the problem. Those numbers sound small, but they add up. Multiple that household-per-day number by 125 million households and 365 days a year, and you get an annual infrastructure bill of $137 billion. Paying for infrastructure is a big decision. How to pay for things is a marketing decision regarding pricing. What are the options?

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