Can Open Innovation Keep Plastics Out of Our Oceans?

May 19, 2017 By IdeaConnection

According to the Prince of Wales, plastic in the world’s oceans is a “growing ecological and human disaster”.  He was speaking at the launch of a huge open innovation initiative to tackle this environmental menace.

His words follow a report by the Dame Ellen MacArthur Foundation that if solutions are not found, the world’s oceans will contain more plastics than fish, by weight by the year 2050.

“Because plastics are so durable once they are in the environment that is where they stay, accumulating at an astonishing rate,” continued Prince Charles.

So, a $2 million prize competition aims to keep plastics out of the ocean by making them more recyclable.  There are two parts to the innovation challenge:

The $1 million Circular Design Challenge is asking innovators to develop new packaging formats for small-format packaging, which make up 10% of all plastic packaging (for example straws and sauce and shampoo sachets).  Many of these items do not usually get recycled.

The second part is the $1 million Circular Materials Challenge, which has a bold ambition of making all plastic packaging recyclable.

Among the backers of this new open innovation approach to dealing with plastics are the Prince of Wales International Sustainability Unit, businesswoman and philanthropist Wendy Schmidt and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

In a statement, retired English sailor Ellen MacArthur, said:

“After 40 years of effort, globally only 14 percent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, with one third escaping collection and ending up in the environment. If we want to change this, we must fundamentally rethink the way we make and use plastics.”

For more information about the problems that plastics are causing in the world’s oceans, visit the Ocean Conservancy’s website.

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Reader Comments

We must concentrate in reusable / multi-use packaging. Such as water bottles of smaller volume to be banned, Medicine, food articles, soap etc should be sold in reusable jars and sellers should display the price of Jar so that consumer will return the jar for a price. Packaging for fragile goods should be such that the seller should take back the packaging or size of items should be standard for enabling same packing material can be used at different places.
Posted by s padhy on June 7, 2017

Australia is known as the worlds worst waste generator,only because they recycle 80% of plastics aluminiumn cans ,glass, this is because every household has a second bin just for that.Also children from 5 to 12 are educated to recycle and general public are humiliated in public for throwing rubbish by the public.To top it off we started CLEAN UP AUSTRALIA DAY well organized with free gloves and pickup sticks,pre advertised in all media with TV NEWS UPDATEs BEfore/
Solution to other plastics accumulated and partially broken down in the enviroment can be 100% recycled and made INERT by the following formula.
Collected and put into a high temperature furnace. Made simply by generating electricity ,splitting water into Hydrogen,Oxygen, Feeding into the furnace ,generates enough heat to destroy all toxidities and revert to simple elements.
Additional heat generated,OVERPARITY,offers a cheap continued fuel source.ELECTRICITY.
Posted by Stephen on May 26, 2017

There is no punishment which prevent the people wasting anything. This has to
get changed in dramatically terms.
all ships and boats has to be equiped with a press-unit with sorting function. No
license without having such equipment and waste management.
All ports have to be equiped with a "hook"
to the recycling industry. No license for ports without waste management.
A bigger part of any plastic kind of packaging shoulde be made of biodegradable
Rivers should have technical equipments to chatch the items out of the current
water-fluid in the no-ice-periode. Such projects in the duty of the plastic recycling industry.
Supporting such development, the plastic packaging industry has to be constrained for direct developments or financial aid to such developments, which are part of the world-wide upcoming desaster. Govt. has to regulate tax
resources to support or prevent circumstances enhanced to each technical solutions which would be able to have an appropriate result.

All waste projects have to be in multilink and without border like the oceans.

The editor is working in the recycling industry, esp. for plastic recycling.
Posted by Klein on May 25, 2017

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