Crowdsourcing Competition to Reduce and Eliminate Waste

Published Jul-11-11

A series of innovative solutions to tackle pollution problems.

Adventure Ecology, United Kingdom

The Story:

Crowdsourcing Competition to Reduce and Eliminate Waste Nobody is as smart as everybody is the foundation that crowdsourcing is built on, an innovation process that can be deployed to tackle any kind of problem and change the way systems, companies and societies work.

Crowdsourcing Challenge

The Beat Waste Startup Challenge was a crowdsourcing competition sponsored by environmental awareness group Adventure Ecology. It offered USD $25,000 in prizes for business and social enterprises that could come up with innovative ways to either reduce or eliminate waste that typically gets dumped in places it shouldn’t. For example, plastic bottles and bags that end up polluting the world’s oceans.

The contest was inspired by the Plastiki, a ship made of trash that sailed across the Pacific to urge the world to re-think waste, and it was open to start ups and early stage ventures. Participants had to write and submit an elevator pitch and a brief 200 word description of their innovation.

Myoo Create, a community for environmental and social innovation helped to run the contest and a website was created to manage submissions. Community members watched the pitches, made comments and discussed and voted on their favorites. The top seven ideas as well as three wild card selections were then invited to submit a summary enterprise plan, and the top four from this grouping presented their ideas in a global webinar to a panel of judges that included Graham Hill, the founder of the environmental website TreeHugger.

Contest Winners

The first place prize of $15,000 went to Waste Ventures, a company that invests in garbage pickers in India, the people who pick through garbage and re-sell it for scrap for $1 a day. Waste Ventures supplies companies owned and operated by the pickers with tools to process the garbage in an environmentally friendly way- recycling inorganic waste, composting organic waste and earning carbon credits. It also provides the distribution chain for resultant bio-fertilizer and carbon credits. These were markets that were previously unobtainable for the pickers.

The net results are that their income increases, greenhouse gases are reduced, the amount of garbage in developing countries diminishes and the agriculture industry receives much needed bio-fertilizer.

“I am both elated and humbled in placing first in the Beat Waste Startup Challenge,” said Parab Gupta, founder of Waste Ventures. “The rigorous crowdsourcing and subsequent selection by a prestigious group of judges is testament to our efforts to uplift waste pickers while reducing garbage in emerging counties through the markets.”

The $7500 second place prize went to Dirt Hugger, a company that helps to create sustainable economies by collecting, processing and using organic nutrients locally instead of them being shipped to large composing facilities or landfill sites that could be hundreds of miles away. The big idea is to create replicable mini composting facilities all over the United States where communities don’t have ready or easy access to organic waste management plants.

Recognizing the value of crowdsourcing the contest also awarded a $500 prize for the community member who provided the best quality feedback during the challenge.

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