6HR005 Case Study – Single Use Plastic

 
Faculty of Arts Business & Social Sciences – Assessment Brief for Students
First Sit – 2020 / 2021
 

Module code and title
 
6HR005 – Social Responsibility
Module leader
 
 
Diet First attempt  – Semester 1 2020/21
 
Assessment type
 
Case Study
Submission date
 
Semester 1 – See Canvas for date and time of submission
Submission method
 
E-submission only
Assessment limits
 
4,000 words with an allowance of +10% will be accepted.  Figures/tables/diagrams specified in the assignment brief, appendices and the reference list are NOT included in this word limit. 
Assessment weighting
 
100%

                       

Assessment brief  (if appropriate, please refer to module assessment briefing document)
 
 
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING POINTS:
Paper and email submissions will NOT be marked.
You will NOT gain marks for simply explaining information or copying and pasting the case study information from the brief into your answer.  You should ensure that the majority of your answer is used to analyse the information using relevant theories from academic sources.
In writing your responses, you should use a range of text books and at least two peer-reviewed journal articles to support your analysis across the whole assignment.
Each answer is worth 25% of the final mark and should be approximately 1,000 words in length.  To achieve a pass, you MUST answer all four questions.
The following Declaration should be inserted at the front of your assignment submission.  A separate copy of this declaration is available on the Canvas topic.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Electronic Cover Sheet

  • Please complete and insert this form as the first page of your electronic submission.
  • Submit the assignment with attached coversheet electronically through the Canvas E-submission gateway
  • Please make sure you keep a copy of your assignment.

 
Student Details

Student Number  

 
Assignment Details

Module name Social Responsibility Module Code 6HR005
 
    Module Leader Nicky Adams
Due date See Canvas for date and time of submission  
Assignment title Social Responsibility Case Studies

 
All forms of plagiarism, cheating and unauthorized collusion are regarded seriously by the University and could result in penalties including failure in the unit and possible exclusion from the University. If you are in doubt, please read the following web page.
Student’s Declaration
By submitting this assignment, I SIGNAL & DECLARE my knowledge and agreement to the following: – where I have indicated, the work I am submitting in this assignment is my own work and has not been submitted for assessment in another unit or for any other purpose. This work conforms to the instructions and submission guidelines as contained in the assessment briefing and the module guide respectively. 
This submission complies with University of Wolverhampton policies regarding plagiarism, cheating and collusion.
I acknowledge and agree that the assessor of this assignment may, for the purpose of assessing this assignment:
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I have retained all assignment drafts, papers, materials and a copy of this assignment for my own records.
I will retain a copy of the notification of receipt of this assignment.
 
6HR005 Case Study – Single Use Plastic
As well as this case study it is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that you read up to p25 and from pp64-73 of the following report which is the source for much of the information below.
UNEP (2018). SINGLE-USE PLASTICS: A Roadmap for Sustainability Available at https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25496/singleUsePlastic_sustainability.pdf
Case Study
Plastic is an incredibly versatile and useful material, used in many different ways.  However much of the plastic we use these days is used only once and thrown away.  Flexible packaging of this type, particularly for foodstuffs is used to protect food from damage and extend its shelf life.  One argument for the continued use of this type of plastic is that it can have a lower environmental impact because of its protection of its contents.  For example, it could be argued that it takes less energy, water, land use and carbon dioxide to grow a cucumber which is wrapped in a plastic film and has a shelf life of 14 days than it does to grow a cucumber which is not wrapped and has a shelf life of just 3 days, meaning more cucumbers have to be grown and transported to meet the same demand.  There are however compelling arguments for better management of single use plastics.
“The most common single-use plastics found in the environment are, in order of magnitude, cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straws and stirrers, other types of plastic bags, and foam take-away containers. These are the waste products of a throwaway culture that treats plastic as a disposable material rather than a valuable resource to be harnessed.” (UNEP, 2018, p. vi).
Much of this plastic is not recycled, often because the type of plastic is difficult to recycle or because it is difficult to find a use for recycled plastic, but also because recycling levels globally are very low.
Plastic is usually made from petroleum oil and although it degrades i.e. breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, it does not BIODEGRADE which means that it does not break down or decompose into a natural product like soil.  As the plastic degrades, it releases many of the toxic chemicals which were added to it during its manufacture, and these are released into the environment.
The UN states that only about 9% of the nine billion tonnes of plastic ever produced, has been recycled.  They estimate that by 2050 the volume of plastic litter will exceed 12 billion tonnes if we don’t address the issue and that the plastics industry could use 20% of the world’s oil consumption.
The environmental problems caused by plastic waste are manifold: in water they can block waterways and sewers, causing flooding, breeding grounds for mosquitoes and being eaten by animals on land and in the sea; it can get into the food chain and ingesting it can cause damage to the nervous systems; burning plastic waste in poor countries causes pollution and releases toxic chemicals to be breathed in; it costs shipping, fishing and tourism industries worldwide around $2 billion.  Total economic damage to the marine ecosystem is estimated to be at least $13 billion every year
Much single use plastic packaging has replaced other more traditional types of packaging for example glass bottles for milk; paper wrappings for foodstuffs.  A significant proportion of plastic waste is this single use plastic, and there are a number of factors which affect the ability of the material to be recycled.  These include how the plastic is made, what type of plastic it is made from and whether it has been combined with other materials e.g. crisp packets.  Consequently, it is estimated that about 79% of plastic waste ever produced is in landfill; 12% has been incinerated and 9% recycled.  Different countries and regions are approaching the management of this in different ways.  For example in 2017 a European agreement was reached to aim to increase plastic packaging recycling to 55% by 2030.
There are a range of issues related to the effective management of single use plastic waste.
Reduction of single use plastic is one approach.  This is being driven by a range of activities including research into alternatives to non-biodegradable, petroleum based plastics.  Additionally in many countries public pressure is informing government strategies and in others voluntary agreements in reduction of single use plastic are increasing.  All of these are supporting the achievement of local, national and global targets on the reduction of single use plastic.
To improve waste management it is necessary to sort waste more effectively at source, collect and store it safely and then recycle more products more cost effectively and send less to landfill.  This will help reduce issues such as the impact on biodiversity.
However, recycling itself brings its own challenges.  Plastic waste needs to be clean and sorted for it to be suitable for recycling and this process can be hindered by things like putting unwashed plastic packaging out for recycling or putting plastics which cannot be recycled in with waste for recycling.
For many years developed countries have sent their plastic recycling to other, often developing, countries to be recycled.  In recent years this practice has stopped, primarily because countries which have been taking this waste such as China and Malaysia have changed what waste they will take and process.  This has been due to a growing understanding of the impact of this waste on their own local environments.  This has meant that many countries are now having to reconsider how they manage their plastic waste.
Companies like Terracycle are involved in programmes to collect and recycle packaging like crisp packets which are difficult to recycle, they are also involved in collections for specific suppliers of toiletries and cleaning product packaging and used coffee capsules.  However, many of their collection points are run by volunteers rather than companies.
What about alternatives to single use plastic?  There are a number of organisations looking at alternatives.  Cellulose based containers which are fully compostable are being designed in Sweden; Harvard University has created a compostable clear plastic from shrimp shells and silk protein.  Compostable packaging usually requires industrial composting facilities with high temperatures and specific conditions; where it ends up in ordinary landfill it can release environmentally damaging greenhouse gases.  Other options being researched are compostable cups from seaweed, edible membranes (to mimic things like grape skins) and water soluble plastic membranes (used on laundry and dishwasher tablets).
Additional Sources:
·         https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/future-of-food/food-packaging-plastics-recycle-solutions/
·         http://www.plasticfreechallenge.org/what-is-single-use-plastic/
·         https://www.bpf.co.uk/Sustainability/Plastics_Recycling.aspx
·         www.terracycle.com
·         https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49827945
 
 
Questions
 
1.       Research is being undertaken into finding alternatives to non-biodegradable, oil-based single use plastic items.  One alternative being developed is the use of fish waste and algae to make a biodegradable film which can be used in applications such as sandwich packaging (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-50419047).  Some groups of people might find this an unacceptable alternative since it uses animal waste as part of its manufacturing process (vegans, vegetarians, certain religions).
 
Using one ethical theory taught in the module, justify why this product should be used instead of a standard plastic film, regardless of the objections to its use of animal products.
 
Using a different ethical theory, justify why non-biodegradable single use plastics should continue to be used instead of this fish-based alternative.
 
 
2.       Briefly compare the similarities and differences between the stated levels of the following models: Good Ethics means Good Business level in the Chryssides and Kaler model and Emergent Ethical level in the Reidenbach & Robin model.  What actions could organisations providing single use plastic products take to help them meet these levels more regularly?
 
You should ensure that you use a range of relevant academic sources to support your work and link these to the case study information provided.
 
 
3.       Single use plastics are often used in applications (windows in sandwich boxes, straws, sachets) which make them hard to collect and additionally are made from types of plastics which are almost impossible to recycle.
 
Who are the key stakeholders involved with or affected by the challenges involved in the collection and recycling/disposal of single use plastics? Complete a stakeholder map using this information and explain the purpose of the stakeholder map using relevant theory.
 
Analyse how these challenges would affect any two key stakeholders of your choice.  You should include the completed stakeholder map in your answer (NOT in an appendix).  You should ensure that you use a range of relevant academic sources to support your work and link this to the case study information provided.
 
 
4.       Identify one type of single use plastic.  What future CSR trends might affect management decisions made in relation to the continuing use of this single use plastic product?  You should ensure that you use a range of relevant academic sources to support your work and link these to the case study information provided.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Assessment Criteria (The actual assessment components for this assignment)
Criteria Weighting (If applicable)
·         Level of research and range of additional material used n/a
·         Identification and critical analysis of key issues n/a
·         Application of theory to the case study materials n/a
·         Structure of argument, clarity of writing and Harvard referencing n/a

 

Pass mark
           
Undergraduate                                                                                                                        40%
Performance descriptors in use;
·         University of Wolverhampton                                                                                             No 
·         Professional or Statutory Body                                                                                          No 
·         Module specific                                                                                                          Yes 
·         Other (specify below)                                                                                                                          No 
 
 

 

Return of assessments
(Instructions for return / collection of assessments)
 
Feedback sent through Canvas, within 4 working weeks.
 

 

  This assessment is testing Module Learning outcomes Tick if tested here
LO1 Critically analyse concepts and theories of business ethics Ö
LO2 Discuss the relevance of social responsibility concepts in organisational contexts Ö
LO3 Differentiate social responsibility issues from the perspective of a variety of stakeholders Ö
LO4 Examine the future of social responsibility and business ethics within organisations and reflect upon its impact on leaders and managers Ö

 
Additional information for students
The University’s Learning Information Services have produced a series of guides covering a range of topics to support your studies, and develop your academic skills including a guide to academic referencing http://www.wlv.ac.uk/lib/skills_for_learning/study_guides.aspx
Your module guide and course handbook contain additional and important information regarding;

  • The required referencing style for your assignment.*

Whilst many modules require referencing in accordance with the Harvard Referencing convention, some modules – for example those within the School of Law – require Oxford Referencing. Please familiarise yourself with the requirements of your module.
 

  • Submission of your work
  • Marking, feedback and moderation in accordance with the University of Wolverhampton Assessment Handbook
  • Extensions on submission dates *
  • Additional support *
  • Academic conduct with regards to cheating, collusion or plagiarism *
  • Links to appropriate sources of relevant information *

 
* Further information regarding these and other policies can be accessed through your student portal on wlv.ac.uk.
 
Always keep a copy of your work and a file of working papers
The requirement to keep a file of working papers is important.  There may be circumstances where it is difficult to arrive at a mark for your work. If this is the case, you may be asked to submit your file and possibly meet with your tutor to answer questions on your submission.
When you submit your work you will be required to sign an important declaration confirming that:

  • The submission is your own work
  • Any material you have used has been acknowledged and appropriately referenced
  • You have not allowed another student to have access to your work
  • The work has not been submitted previously.

 
The following information is important when:

  • Preparing for your assignment
  • Checking your work before you submit it
  • Interpreting feedback on your work after marking.

 
Module Learning Outcomes

  • Module Learning Outcomes are specific to this module, and are set when the module was validated.

 

  • Assessment Criteria
  • The module Learning Outcomes tested by this assignment, and precise criteria against which your work will be marked are outlined in your assessment brief.

 
Performance Descriptors

  • Performance descriptors indicate how marks will be arrived at against each of the assessment criteria. The descriptors indicate the likely characteristics of work that is marked within the percentage bands indicated.

To help you further:

  • Re-sit opportunities are available for students who are unable to take the first sit opportunity, or who need to re take any component.
  • Refer to the VLE topic for contact details of your module leader / tutor, tutorial inputs, recommended reading and other sources, etc. Resit details will also appear on the VLE module topic.
  • The University’s Learning Information Services offer support and guidance to help you with your studies and develop your academic skills http://www.wlv.ac.uk/lib/skills_for_learning/study_guides.aspx

                       
 
Performance descriptors

Assessment criteria A (70-100%)
Work of an outstanding, excellent and very good standard.
 
B (60-69%)
Work of a good standard.
C (50-59%)
Work of a competent standard.
D (40-49%)
Work of a satisfactory standard to pass.
E (30-39%)
Work of an unsatisfactory standard *
F (0-29%)
No learning outcomes fully met.
Level of research and range of additional material used.
 
Evidence of wide independent reading with variety of relevant and up to date source materials used.  Excellent analysis of researched material to the topic. Some evidence of reading outside the module list and beyond classroom notes. All significant content accurate. Analyses a good range of sources. Content relevant to the question/task. Reading based on main texts or materials, but not always utilized in supporting argument. Analyses a range of sources. Limited reading only; mostly just class notes. Only a few sources used and those taken from materials provided in class. Material merely repeats taught input. Too little evidence of reading, from class notes or outside. Limited analysis of sources.  Failure to answer the question as set. Little/no attempt to address the assignment brief or learning outcomes or to engage with module materials. No evidence of reading or analysis of sources.  Failure to answer the question as set.
Identification and critical analysis of key issues A comprehensive understanding of ethical and Social Responsibility theory and issues demonstrated.  Focused and in-depth identification of the key issues, which are then analysed in an insightful way.
Full answers provided to all parts of the assignment and supported throughout by theory.
Good understanding of ethical and Social Responsibility theory and issues demonstrated.
Full identification of key issues, which are analysed in a thorough way.
Theory should be applied to support answers to a good overall standard.
Competent understanding of ethical and Social Responsibility theory and issues demonstrated.  Competent identification of most key issues which are analysed competently. A range of relevant theory competently applied to support answers in most places. Basic understanding of ethical and Social Responsibility theory and issues demonstrated.  Some key issues identified but discussed in a predominantly descriptive rather than analytical way.  Limited relevant theory applied to support the answers.
 
Lacks understanding of basic ethical and Social Responsibility theory and concepts. Few key issues identified.  Wholly descriptive.
No evidence of examination or application of theory. Failure to answer the question as set.
Inadequate/no demonstration of knowledge or understanding of key ethical and Social Responsibility concepts or theories.  Wholly descriptive and lacking in theory.  Failure to answer the question as set.
Application of theory to the case study materials Focused and comprehensive links made between the case study information and relevant theory. Fully critically evaluates the connection between theory and case study examples in all areas. Draws insightful conclusions from wider reading and information provided. Clear links made between the case study information and relevant theory.  Good level of critical evaluation between theory and case study examples in most areas.  Draws meaningful conclusions from wider reading and information provided. Sound links made between the case study information and relevant theory.  Competent level of critical evaluation between theory and case study examples in key areas.  Draws sound conclusions from reading key sources and information provided. Some links made between the case study information and limited relevant theory.  Very little critical evaluation of theory and case study examples, the writing is mostly descriptive and repeats the case study details.  Draws limited and obvious conclusions from reading of narrow range of sources. One or two links made between the case study information and theory.  No critical evaluation, wholly descriptive and assertions made without substantiation.  No meaningful conclusions drawn.  Failure to answer the question as set. No evidence of theory to link to the case study.  Wholly descriptive and no attempt made to engage with the topic.  Failure to answer the question as set.
Structure of argument, clarity of writing and Harvard referencing All arguments critically analysed, original insights and conclusions offered and overall the structure is clear and well laid out.  Articulate and accurate writing style. Very few errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax evident.  Harvard referencing all present and correct both within the assignment and in the reference list. Most arguments critically analysed, a range of appropriate insights and conclusions offered and a clear structure and writing style.  Minor repeated errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax evident.  Minor errors in Harvard referencing, or some omissions both within the assignment and in the reference list. Key arguments critically analysed, key insights and conclusions drawn and presented.  Structure and writing style clear. Repeated errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax evident.  Repeated errors and/or omissions in Harvard referencing both within the assignment and in the reference list. Limited evidence of analysis, some obvious insights offered.  Structure muddled, or writing style lacking in coherence.  Regular or frequently repeated errors in in grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax evident.  Significant repeated errors and/or omissions in Harvard referencing both within the assignment and in the reference list. Little or no evidence of analysis and limited insights or conclusions drawn. Lack of structure, poor writing style with extensive errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax.  Harvard references negligible or missing in either the assignment and/or in the reference list. No evidence of engaging with the assignment materials, content unclear due to poor structure and writing style with extensive errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax.  Harvard references missing in either the assignment and/or in the reference list.

 

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