Meet the Innovators Who Will Share a $1 M Prize to Stop Plastic Pollution

Six innovators won the Circular Design Challenge (part 1 of the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize) earlier this month and will share a $1 million prize. The challenge focused on plastic packaging items that are too small or too complex to be recycled like shampoo sachets, wrappers, and coffee cup lids, which often end up as plastic pollution in the world's oceans and environment. 

So who are the winning innovators and what do their products do? The winners fall into three categories: rethinking grocery shopping, redesigning sachets, and reinventing coffee-to-go.

  1. Rethinking grocery shopping. Today’s supermarkets are full of single-use plastic packaging. By rethinking the way we get products to people around the world, innovators can design out waste.
    1. MIWA, from the Czech Republic, introduces an app that lets shoppers order the exact quantities of the groceries they need, which are then delivered in reusable packaging from the producer to their closest store or to their home.
    2. Algramo, a Chilean social enterprise, offers products in small quantities in reusable containers across a network of 1,200 local convenience stores in Chile.
  2. Redesigning sachets. Hundreds of billions of sachets are sold each year to get small quantities of personal care and food products, such as shampoo and soy sauce, to people in emerging markets. Those sachets are not recycled and many end up polluting the ocean.
    1. Evowar, an Indonesian startup, designs food wrappings and sachets (containing instant coffee or flavoring for noodles) made out of a seaweed-based material that can be dissolved and eaten.
    2. Delta, from the United Kingdom, offers a compact technology that allows restaurants to make and serve sauces in edible and compostable sachets.
  3. Reinventing coffee-to-go. More than 100 billion disposable coffee cups are sold globally every year, yet today almost none of them (nor their lids) are recycled.
    1. CupClub, based in the United Kingdom, introduces a reusable cup subscription service, in which reusable cups can be dropped off at any participating store.
    2. TrioCup, from the United States, offers a disposable paper cup made with an origami-like technique that removes the need for a plastic lid. The team has chosen a 100 percent compostable material and is working on an alternative that is 100 percent recyclable.

Winners will participate in the New Plastics Economy Accelerator Program, a 12-month program specifically designed to advance and scale their innovations. 

Learn more about The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize.

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