We are bringing to life real solutions and models to end plastic waste in the environment.
Transformational change comes when we are not afraid to keep moving and learning, it is this that drives a collective group of world-class engineers, innovators, committed entrepreneurs and passionate individuals to partner with the Alliance.
We’re working both on the ground and remotely with partners on projects to deliver scalable and sustainable solutions on the frontline of the plastic waste challenge.
Using a holistic approach in developing infrastructure, championing innovation, supporting education and advocating clean-ups, we are confident we can turn the tide on plastic waste.
Plug & Play
“I believe when we bring together all the stakeholders—large corporations, entrepreneurs, startups, and universities - you can create real change. By devoting resources and attention to this global issue of plastic waste, we can make a difference in the environment. Through this platform, I commit to spend more of my time on sustainability-focused initiatives and will invest in 20 startups in this space per year,”
- Saeed Amidi, Founder & CEO of Plug and Play
Every year, we lose up to US$120 billion* when plastic packaging is not recycled. After a short first use, just 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, and - due to losses in sorting and processing - only 5% of material value is retained. The recycling rate for all plastics, other than packaging, is even lower. Despite this, plastic is the most commonly used material in packaging, especially in consumer goods. *World Economic Forum January 2016
This is an issue – valuable resources are being wasted, only 2% of plastic production is sourced from from recycled plastic. Worse, plastic waste is polluting our environment, with a third of plastic packaging waste leaking out of collection systems and being left in our environment.
To solve this problem, we need innovative solutions from the next generation of great thinkers. That’s why the Alliance organised the End Plastic Waste Innovation Platform, together with Plug and Play. This platform will focus on supporting start-ups across the globe to innovate in the plastic waste management space, tying back to the Alliance’s innovation pillar.
The first of its kind, the platform will host six accelerator programs, two in each of the regional hubs - Silicon Valley, Paris and Singapore. The Top 10 start-ups from each region will be selected for 90-day incubation periods in each hub, where they will have access to resources and expertise from our members, representing a cross-section of the plastics value chain.
Ten startups from the Americas have been selected, and are in the midst of their accelerator program. They include companies like Oceanworks, AMP Robotics, and Litterati, who have cumulatively raised over US$5 million.
In Paris, 11 startups from around Europe have been chosen, with a range of solutions such as The Great Bubble Barrier, who plans on clearing plastic pollution in oceans with bubbles, and Greyparrot, which uses AI to sort waste at scale. These 11 will start their accelerator programme at the end of April.
In Singapore, applications are still open for startups across Asia-Pacific, with the accelerator programme beginning later in the summer.
Much like the rest of the world, the End Plastic Waste Innovation Platform has had to pivot in light of COVID-19. The Silicon Valley accelerator programme is being conducted virtually, and has been extended from 90 days to 180 days. The Paris selection day was conducted virtually, with the founder dialling in to pitch to our panels. We hope to continue innovating all around the world, and overcome these challenges together.
"At Renew Oceans, we are working to reduce ocean plastic pollution by creating circular economies. Our holistic approach - Collection, Conversion, Community- begins in river adjacent communities starting with the rivers that ultimately contribute to ocean-bound plastic. With the support of the Alliance, we started our work in Varanasi, India, a historical city on the banks of the Ganges. We work with waste pickers from marginalized communities to collect plastic waste, which is ultimately converted to other renewable products and fuel.This type of circular solution allows us to design new markets out of plastic waste while protecting and enhancing our rivers, oceans, and local livelihoods."
-Sumeet Bodington Chief Development Officer, Renew Oceans
The Ganges river is over 2,600 km long, starting from the Himalayas, and flowing through the plains of India and Bangladesh to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal. It is a lifeline to 120 million people who live and work along its banks, and 400 million people who depend on it for water.
However, the Ganges is also among one of the global rivers shown to contribute 90% of land-based plastic waste to the ocean; it accumulates about 544,000 tons of plastic waste annually. In Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, an estimated 2,105 tons of plastic litter has the potential to enter the Ganges each year. Varanasi produces about 650 tons of municipal solid waste every day, a third of which is not collected and left in the environment.
That’s why the Alliance to End Plastic Waste is contributing funding, materials, logistics capabilities and technical expertise to Renew Oceans’ work in India. The Renew Ganga projects aims to create a circular local economy from collection of low-value plastic waste, and converting it into fuel to be used at local business, such as diesel for auto-rickshaws.
In 2019, about 50 tons of plastic waste were collected through the programme, and we aim to double that in 2020. This collected plastic waste was then converted into diesel using the first-ever ReFuel system.
Renew Ganga also reached out to over 1,000 community members in 2019, and introduced the world’s first reverse vending machine for soft plastics, called the Plastic Muncher. Members of the community were encouraged to feed the Plastic Muncher with their soft plastic waste, in exchange for credit which could be used in local businesses that benefited from the converted fuel. In 2020, we would like to ramp up our engagement activities to reach over 2000 people.
Project Stop 3 (Jembrana)
“The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a crucial partner to Project STOP 3 (Jembrana). Not only do they support us financially, but also guide us with deep operational and strategic expertise; thereby encouraging us to think and act bolder, which has resulted in exceptional frontline impact.”
- Joi Danielson, Partner, SystemIQ
The Balinese province of Jembrana is home to about 160,000 people but has a limited plastic waste management system.
According to a recent study, around 33,000 tons of all plastic waste on the island is leaked into waterways and eventually the ocean.
* This is according to a study by the Bali Partnership, a collaboration between the island's Waste Management Task Force, the provincial Environmental Agency, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
One such sub-district is Jembrana, whose Ijo Gading River is the island’s largest ocean plastic contributor, accounting for 12% of the province’s ocean plastics leakage. That’s why the Alliance has chosen to support a new waste management system in Jembrana – to empower the local community to collect, sort, and sell their own plastic waste. This self-sufficient system will not only provide jobs in the community and rid over 150,000 residents of their waste, but will also prevent 1,500 tons of plastic waste from leaking into the environment ever year.
Our hope is Jembrana is just the start, our project here is designed to be scaled up and rolled out across other communities across Asia.
So far, the Alliance has formed critical relationships with the Jembrana Regency and signed a Memorandum of Understanding. In return, the Regency provided a site for the facility to be built.
Currently designs are underway for constructing a bespoke waste management system on the chosen site. At the same time work is underway to build the community engagement team.
The first test run will go live with 100 homes in the summer this year, with the full project slated to kick-off early 2021.
Grameen Creative Lab
In many parts of the developing world, infrastructure to manage waste has not kept up with rapid urbanisation and population growth. Two such examples are Puducherry, India, which has a population of over 240,000, and Tan An, Vietnam, where the urban centre grows by 25% annually.
In Puducherry, 350 tons of solid waste is generated daily, and regular garbage collection is limited to public bins or for individuals who can afford private services. This collected waste is not sorted, so two-thirds of it ends up in landfills. Uncollected garbage, especially in lower-income neighborhoods, is left to leak into the environment.
In Vietnam, there is a habit of separating recoverable waste materials that can be sold – such as plastic or metals – and these are sold to one of the country’s 3,000 recycling craft villages. However, often times outdated and unsafe technologies are used to process these recyclable materials, risking the health of the people doing the recycling, the environment, and potentially losing some of value of the materials.
Tan An is a key economic area in South Vietnam and nestled in the Mekong Delta – making it an ideal candidate to facilitate socio-economic development and protect one of the main waterways in Vietnam.
To facilitate the continued growth in these two cities, the Alliance is partnering with Grameen Creative Lab, a social business consultant founded and led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus. Together, we have started the Zero Plastic Waste City project, which implements a social business model to build sustainable waste management systems.
The Zero Plastic Waste City project aims to develop and deploy waste management solutions in these two cities, and engage the local communities to take ownership of these waste management systems and reap their benefits. Waste will be collected from communities, sorted into various outputs, and converted into reusable source of plastic. This resource can then be leveraged by the local communities as a source of income.
Currently, a feasibility study is being conducted to determine the best option for the plastic waste conversion output, to ensure long-term adoption in each community. The cities will run pilot programmes to find out which option best serves their needs.