Think Beyond Plastic, an organization that aims to mobilize a large-scale response to plastic pollution, has announced this year’s winners of its annual Innovation Competition. The competition, which looks for “disruptive innovation”, this year received 145 applications from 35 countries in Africa, Asia, European Union, North and South America. All ideas had to be scalable, offer a solid value proposition with a focus on sustainability. The three winners - Full Cycle Bioplastics, Grow Bioplastics, and NeuWorld Plastics - were selected not only for their innovative product designs, but also for their “unique and promising business applications”, said the jury.
California-based Full Cycle Bioplastics was named Think Beyond Plastic’s Most Innovative Business of 2016. Full Cycle was selected for their unique and innovative approach to the conversion of food, agricultural, cardboard and paper wastes into high performance and cost-competitive polyhydroxyalkanoate biopolymers (PHA), a biodegradable replacement for petroleum-based plastics.
“Full Cycle Bioplastics' innovation is a true example of a circular economy application - an innovative material coupled with an innovative business model,” said Daniella Russo, Founder and CEO of Think Beyond Plastic.
Grow Bioplastics became the recipient of the Most Innovative Emerging Business award, for its innovative use of lignin to produce affordable, closed-loop biodegradable mulch films for agricultural use. These can replace existing petroleum-based plastic sheets, delivering economic and environmental benefits to farmers, while preventing the landfilling of millions of tons of plastic sheets. Grow Plastics is headquartered in Washington, USA.
Neuworld Plastics was awarded the Most Innovative Business Idea for its development of innovative, compostable, non-petroleum-based alternatives to single-serve food packaging that, in line with the goal of Think Beyond Plastic, tangibly reduces plastic pollution.
Honorable mentions for microplastics went to Catch Microfiber and Save the Ocean! – both from the US - and to Plastic Smog Emissions Closed Loop (Canada) for their “unique and innovative approaches to preventing microfiber and microbeads from entering the ocean”, according to the Think Beyond Plastic report.
Three companies - A Better Way to Drink (United States), Drink Water (United States) and AmrutDhara (India) - received honorable mentions for product design and services for innovations designed to measurably reduce or eliminate plastic bottle usage. Clickeat, a Chilean producer of wood-particle based utensils was also recognized in this category.
The Think Beyond Plastic venture was established in 2007, with a view to advancing entrepreneurship and inspiring innovation for solutions that measurably reduce global plastic pollution. Among other things, it organizes its annual Innovation Competition to promote broad-based innovation, in addition to sourcing and helping to formulate early stage innovations through its program to access academic research labs and university Technology Transfer Offices, and innovation hubs. The organization also produces an annual startup Innovation Accelerator, a program, established in 2013, that is intended to help grow businesses targeted at solutions to plastic pollution; and leads the effort to create policy and economic instruments that support innovation with focus on plastic pollution and marine plastic.
The three competition winners will participate in this year's Accelerator class, which has room for 10-20 startups. The program kicks off September 1, 2016 in San Francisco, CA.