Launch of $2 Million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize (Worldwide)

The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize aims to come up with new ways to design packaging to help keep plastics out of the ocean.

Discarded plastic material is ubiquitous throughout the world and the demand for such materials continues to grow. Currently only 14% of plastics are recycled with the remainder being used once and then discarded, often ending up polluting the world’s natural environment. Should this trend continue it is predicted that there could be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish by 2050. The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize aims to address the issue by identifying better materials, product designs and business models. Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the competition has been launched in collaboration with HRH The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, with funding donated by Wendy Schmidt, Lead Philanthropic Partner of the New Plastics Economy Initiative. The Prize, which has two strands, each backed by $1 million in funding, is a call to anyone who can offer solutions that help to reduce plastics reaching beaches, oceans and other natural habitats around the world. The $1 million Circular Design Challenge focuses on small-format packaging and is intended to help eliminate plastic waste. This strand concentrates on items that are typically not recycled like coffee cup lids, straws and wrappers. The second strand is the $1 million Circular Materials Challenge, inviting ideas for innovations in product design and materials and items that are easier to recycle. Innovators are being challenged to find alternative materials that could be recycled or industrially composted. Up to five winners will receive $200,000 and access to a 12-month acceleration programme. They will also have the opportunity to receive mentoring to advance their innovations and demonstrate that their materials have the potential to be a viable alternative to non-recyclable multi-material laminated packaging. The competition is open to individuals, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, researchers, inventors and large and small companies from anywhere in the world, with viable ideas for getting products to people without using disposable packaging, or designing plastic packaging that is easier to recycle. Applications are now being invited with a deadline of 20 October 2017 for submissions to be made. The accelerator begins in February 2018