Challenge Plastic Waste: take part in the
2019 European Social Innovation Competition
by Sarah Martin
On February 28th in Ljubljana, the 2019 Edition of the European Social Innovation Competition, a challenge prize run by
the European Commission and partners, was launched with the aim of tackling the pressing Challenge of Plastic Waste.
Recent data show that only 9% of all plastic ever discarded since 1950 has been recycled and that the rest became pollution,
in landfills, dumpsites, incinerator emissions or oceans, where it will remain for millennia.
By 2050, plastic production is expected to quadruple. And this comes with consequences: without significant intervention,
the plastic production will represent 15% of the global carbon budget in 2050. The health of users and informal recyclers in the
collection or recycling phase is threatened, especially when wealthier societies in the USA or Europe export low-worth plastics to Asia.
Esra Tat, our Network and Development Coordinator in charge of the Zero Waste Cities Programme, is part of this year competition
judging panel along with Mircea Ilie, IKEA Romania and Milena Glimbovski, Original Unpacked.
“At Zero Waste Europe, we indeed believe that innovative, social and local businesses are much needed in order to
turn the Zero Waste vision into reality. Public authorities and citizens can work until a certain point but it’s businesses
coming out with practical solutions that make it possible” she says.
Hence, one part of our consumption and production work consists in identifying and sharing best practices or innovations that
tackle waste at source all across Europe. Some cities are already finding their own solutions to deal with the waste issue: Bruges
launched in 2015 an ambitious Food Waste strategy to prevent 750.000 kg of food from being wasted, whereas Freiburg
decided to implement a deposit-return system (DRS) for coffee-to-go cups to stop the use of single-use cups.
Setting up these strategies also eases the development of new business models: we have recently released the case study on Recircle,
a swiss social enterprise which aims at putting an end to the flood of single-use containers for take-away food.
With this kind of documents, our goal is to promote and encourage these initiatives, hoping that they will be replicated and developed
across the continent. These examples are also showing that Zero Waste is a successful strategy, not only to fight waste, but also as a
systemic approach for resource efficiency, jobs creation, a healthy environment, clean production and sustainable consumption.
That is why we invite entrepreneurs to apply to the Challenging Plastic Waste Competition. The three most ambitious projects
will be rewarded with a 50,000€ prize to help turn the idea into reality. But this competition has been designed to offer more than
just monetary prizes. It includes a strong mentoring component that benefits not only the winners but all semi-finalists and finalists,
who will be invited to attend a 3-days event including workshops, plenary sessions as well as discussions with a dedicated local coach
and experts webinars. Apply here!
All pictures © Tina Ramijkic