Circular Plastics Case Competition Plans to Enhance Recycled PET Availability
Circular Plastics Case Competition Plans to Enhance Recycled PET Availability

Circular Plastics Case Competition Plans to Enhance Recycled PET Availability

  • 16-Jan-2024 2:32 PM
  • Journalist: Motoki Sasaki

The Circular Plastics Case Competition, now in its second iteration, is making a comeback, presenting a platform for emerging business professionals to revolutionize the plastics value chain. Organized by non-profit organization Net Impact in collaboration with Hillenbrand Inc and The Coca-Cola Company, this competition challenges participants to devise innovative solutions that keep plastics within the economy, reducing environmental impact.

In the current competition cycle, participants are tasked with exploring strategies to enhance the supply of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET). The organizers anticipate that the proposed solutions will address the existing challenges in rPET supply, primarily driven by low recycling rates influenced by declining prices and profitability.

As the March 29 submission deadline approaches, teams comprising two to five members, including undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professionals from across the globe, are invited to participate. However, businesses and startups with a current valuation or capital raised exceeding $100,000 are excluded. The finalists will receive guidance from expert mentors to refine their presentations before virtually presenting to a panel of experts at NPE in May. The winning team will secure a $10,000 prize, with $2,500 for second place and $1,000 for third place.

Kim Ryan, the President and CEO of Hillenbrand, conveyed the underlying objective of the competition, stating that they had initiated the competition with the goal of involving the next generation in thinking creatively and devising solutions that advocate for a circular plastics economy. Ryan highlighted the inspiration drawn from the innovative ideas presented in the first challenge and looks forward to witnessing the participants build on that momentum to make a tangible impact.

The inaugural edition of the competition centered around designing solutions to keep plastics within the economy and prevent environmental leakage by employing upstream innovation to reduce plastic waste. Drawing more than 50 submissions from 10 countries worldwide, the competition showcased the global interest in fostering sustainability in the plastics industry.

The victorious entry in the first competition was Ashaya, an Indian-based startup tackling the issue of post-consumer multi-layer plastic commonly found in chip packets. Ashaya transforms this plastic into new products, with recycled sunglasses being the initial venture. The success of Ashaya underscored the competition's potential to identify and support groundbreaking solutions with real-world applications.

As the Circular Plastics Case Competition embarks on its second round, it aims to harness the collective creativity and ingenuity of participants to address the pressing challenge of rPET supply. By fostering collaboration and innovation, this competition serves as a catalyst for the next generation of business professionals to contribute meaningfully to the transition towards a circular plastics economy, aligning with global sustainability goals. The competition's impact extends beyond a mere contest, offering a platform for transformative ideas and initiatives that hold the promise of reshaping the future of plastics in a more sustainable direction.

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