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$1M for circular economy pioneers


The winners of the $1 million Circular Materials Challenge were revealed today at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in partnership with NineSigma, the Challenge is a key element of the $2 million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, financed by Wendy Schmidt – the leading ‘Philanthropic Partner of the Foundation’s’ New Plastics Economy platform.

If properly implemented, the winning innovations could stop the ‘equivalent of 100 garbage bags per second of plastic waste being created’.

Dame Ellen MacArthur said: “These winning innovations show what’s possible when the principles of a circular economy are embraced. Clean-ups continue to play an important role in dealing with the consequences of the waste plastic crisis, but we know we must do more. We urgently need solutions that address the root causes of the problem, not just the symptoms.

“In a New Plastics Economy, plastics will never become waste or enter the ocean in the first place.

“To get there will require new levels of commitment and collaboration from industry, governments, designers and startups. I hope these innovations will inspire even more progress, helping to build a system in which all plastic materials are reused, recycled or safely composted.”

The five winners, which include the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland – for its ‘compostable multi-layer material made from agricultural and forestry by-products’ will receive $200,000 each. They will also take part in a 12-month accelerator programme – run with Think Beyond Plastic – alongside the winners of the Circular Design Challenge, which were announced last year.

Wendy Schmidt added: “I am excited to see the winners of this prize money begin the important work in this year’s accelerator program, with the goal of moving these exciting breakthroughs into the marketplace.”

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