• Ecothon Innovation Challenge supported by Nestlé, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, and the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an
• Competition challenged students to develop new circular economy solutions for packaging waste including plastic
Masdar’s Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S) platform has announced “Re.” as the winning team of its Ecothon Innovation Challenge.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S), a Masdar outreach initiative, invests and actively supports the development of youth, with the objective of enabling them to become the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.
Hosted in collaboration with Nestlé, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an, the challenge tasked the competing teams with developing either new & recyclable materials for packaging, production and design, or an innovation that could enable society, governments and corporations to encourage responsible behavior toward a single-use plastic-free future.
The Re. team were selected as the winners for their innovative water bottles that aim to redesign and reimagine the future of drinking water, while tackling the issue of plastic pollution.
Dr Lamya Nawaf Fawwaz, Executive Director of Brand and Strategic Initiatives at Masdar, said: “I would like to congratulate all the teams who competed in the Ecothon Innovation Challenge and created innovative solutions to tackle some of the world’s most difficult waste problems using circular economy principles. The Ecothon aims to develop participants’ skills and knowledge to enable them to become future business leaders and innovators, and the ideas presented highlight the important role that youth can play in supporting the global sustainability agenda.”
“Masdar is proud to be taking a leading role in preparing the youth to become future sustainability leaders under the Youth 4 Sustainability platform,” she added.
“The future is safe in the hands of young sustainability leaders, whom Nestlé always aims to support in line with our commitments to youth and to the planet, which include making 100 percent of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025; and to Foster Career Opportunities for Youth,” said Sivakumar Shangumavel, Nestlé Regional Safety, Health, Environment and Security Manager in the Middle East & North Africa.
“We are proud to be collaborating with Masdar and other partners on this Ecothon journey that provides opportunities for both youth mentoring and encouraging a greener future,” he added.
The “Qright” team were awarded second place for their technological solution to influence change in consumers shopping behavior, while “CirEco+” came third for their application that encourages shoppers to use reusable bags in exchange for rewards and a fast self-checkout feature in stores. Both of these teams will receive support from Masdar and BP start-up accelerator The Catalyst, with the aim of incubating their ideas and innovations.
The circular economy topic was selected to provide participants with the opportunity to propose solutions to a real-world problem. Reducing waste and the emissions associated with the development of new products makes an important contribution to action on climate change. Plastic pollution is one of the world’s most challenging sustainability issues, and as waste management problems have intensified across the globe, there has been an increasing need to develop and re-design products based on the principles of the circular economy.
The teams that were not placed in the competition will also receive support from Innovate4Good, a platform that enables the next generation of sustainability and technology for good start-ups. These include:
• FRA: An adapted water dispenser that incentivizes households and community spaces to reduce their water bottles purchases. The smart dispenser uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to measure water consumption of each member of the household or community group.
• Qayyim: A multi-function platform aimed at improving the sustainability measures deployed in restaurants by providing consultations and engaging the businesses with sustainable suppliers offering preferential rates.
• Eco-Cart: A foldable trolley with detachable containers that is designed to be cost-efficient, sustainable and convenient.
• LPI (Less Plastic Initiative): A solution to actively improve consumers’ behaviors toward plastic by bringing together consumers, transportation and collecting centers for recycling.
• WAA'I: An app-based service that provides a collection service for plastic from residential properties. The plastic is sorted and recycled. The app also shows people eco-friendly items to buy.
More than 45 Future Sustainability Leaders, in eight separate teams, participated in the Ecothon, receiving approximately 22 hours of mentoring and training on design thinking and insights for innovation, ideation, prototyping and pitching to develop and refine their innovative ideas in the circular economy. The winning team will be connected with potential incubators for mentorship and to help them advance their idea.