Deadline: 2020-03-13 Award: $22,500 Open to: Everyone*
Each year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste enters our oceans, equivalent to five full trash bags along every inch of coastline worldwide. An estimated 60% of ocean plastics is a result of mismanaged waste from five Asian nations. For this reason, many leaders recognize that optimizing land-based plastic waste management across this region is an impactful first step to ending the crisis. However, as the layers are peeled back, an important ingredient is missing: data.
Data on plastic production and waste management across South and Southeast Asia is missing, inconsistent, or unreliable because the region’s complex plastics value chains are fragmented and reliant on the informal economy. The result is limited visibility and transparency as well as an inability to effectively track, monitor, forecast, or optimize material flows and reduce ocean leakage. Technologies, models and data science being applied in other complex systems can be adopted into plastic waste management and revolutionize Asia’s circular economy.