A Two Million Dollar Challenge

New Plastics Economy

Would you like the chance to win one of two million dollar prizes, while also saving the planet? Enter the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize. Open to “innovators, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs,” the Innovation Prize is an XPRIZE-style contest aimed at one simple goal: keeping plastic out of our oceans.

“Love them or hate them, plastics are everywhere around us. In fact, demand for them is expected to double in the next 20 years. Yet our plastics system is broken. Only 14% is recycled, resulting in a loss of USD 80-120 billion per year to the global economy. Most plastic items are used only once before being discarded, often ending up polluting the environment. If nothing changes, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.” — New Plastics Economy

The contest is divided into two, one million dollar competitions, The Circular Design Initiative, and the Circular Materials Initiative. The design contest addresses the question, “how do we get products to people without generating plastic waste?” The materials contest, “how do we make all plastic packaging recyclable?”

Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and launched in collaboration with HRH The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, with prizes funded by Wendy Schmidt, the prize is designed to bring about the first steps of a total transformation of how we design and use plastics.

“The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action report provides a global action plan to move towards 70% reuse and recycling of plastic packaging, endorsed by over 40 industry leaders, while highlighting the need for fundamental redesign and innovation of the remaining 30%.”

Needless to say, recycling takes center stage in this plan. There are many roadblocks to recycling plastic in the real world, and this is the focus of the initiative. Many plastic materials and items are designed with little to no regard for how they will be recovered. The Circular Design mentioned on the New Plastics Economy site is a methodology to address this, and other concerns.

The contest initiatives are currently in the research phase, and actively seeking submissions.

New Plastics Economy

Innovation Prize

Ellen Macarthur Foundation.org