FLEXIBLE plastic packaging waste remains one of the most challenging types of materials to process and recycle. To help solve this issue, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (Alliance) has announced a US$3 million prize to incentivise solutions that advance a circular economy for flexible plastic packaging found in household waste.
The inaugural prize aims to identify and accelerate novel solutions that enable more effective collection, processing, and recycling of flexible plastics. These solutions should also be commercially viable and replicable, to enable widespread adoption across different geographies. Innovators from across the globe are invited to participate.
A single winner with the best demonstrated solution will be awarded in January 2023. They will also gain access to mentorship and expertise from across the plastics value chain, which will help them tackle early development risks that may stand in the way of large-scale deployment. In addition, other promising innovations may receive exposure to a global network of potential supporters or investors through the Alliance community.
“A recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation noted that it is not yet possible to move away from single-use flexible packaging without negative unintended consequences, and called for urgent efforts across packaging design, infrastructure, and policy. Significant investment is needed to fast-track promising solutions to advance circularity for flexibles,” said Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance. “The US$3 million Alliance Prize is one of our contributions to support this global effort, and we look forward to the participation of innovators from around the world to develop impactful solutions in this space.”
Packaging items such as plastic bags, films, sachets, and wrappers comprise as much as 45% of the waste generated in households. These everyday items are frequently contaminated and are difficult to collect, sort, transport, as well as recycle. Multi-layered materials comprising a combination of plastics, paper or foil further add to the complexity of processing these types of packaging. While many technologies to address these issues already exist, most have yet to be widely adopted and recovery rates remain low.
“Plastics are highly engineered products designed to meet the needs of specific applications, such as advanced moisture or oxygen barriers to keep food items fresh and minimise spoilage. Yet this sophistication creates a complexity post-use,” explained Martyn Tickner, Chief Advisor for Project Development and Circular Solutions at the Alliance.
“We are therefore looking for new solutions that go beyond traditional thinking, that can form the basis for the next generation of innovations to support a plastics circular economy,” said Mr Tickner.
The Prize will be administered by Carrot, a global leader in managing such incentive-based competitions.
Registration is open from now till 26 July, 5pm (ET). Visit www.theallianceprize.org for more information.