Friday, October 22, 2021

Innovative biz ideas funded to reduce plastic waste

ZERO WASTE. The Slow Market by Lokal Lab Siargao taps local producers and consumers in building the popular island destination’s zero-waste community. (Contributed photo)

THE top five business innovations emerging from the Wala Usik Challenge: A Circular Economy Hackathon will each be receiving a seed fund of P100,000 and incubation support to ensure their sustainability.

The four-day hackathon was held online for participants nationwide from August 27 to 30, 2021.

A diverse panel of judges -- from the fields of engineering, social entrepreneurship, conservation, communications and community development -- selected the five most promising startups and initiatives which are designing out waste and pollution, keeping materials in use, regenerating natural resources and contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Agubay, a fresh enterprise based in Negros Occidental, aims to produce cellulose based bioplastic from rice hulls and other agricultural waste, potentially reducing single-use plastics which are not compostable.

JuanBag is designing upcycled reusable packaging which can be returned to online shops.

With the prevalence of deliveries, this innovation has high potential to be scaled and replicated in Philippine cities.

Offering the same deep clean without the excess plastic bottles and sachet waste, suds sustainable pods are already making an impact on the market of personal and homecare products with their single-drop refills in water-soluble film.

Tabo: The Slow Market by Lokal Lab Siargao taps local producers and consumers in building the popular island destination’s zero-waste community.

Central to the plastic-free market will be a refillery for basic condiments like "toyo, suka, patis" (soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce) making the circular economy inclusive and accessible.

Wear Forward, active in the advocacy for circular fashion in the Philippines, pitched their artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform and marketspace where their subscribers can buy, rent, and swap preloved, upcycled and refashioned clothes.

Textile waste and fast fashion rank high in the sources of marine debris as well, which this innovation is addressing.

A total of 18 teams pitched their Wala Usik "hacks" or circular ideas that ranged from a plantable toothbrush, shared reuse systems, apps which use AI and machine learning to calculate a person's carbon footprint and make recycling easier, to alternative packaging materials produced from agricultural waste such as rice hulls, sugar bagasse and corn husks.

Circular models, markets and vendors that encourage refilling and reusable bags and containers, and which support local and sustainable businesses, are also in the spotlight.

The top five will go through a two-month business incubation with the project’s ecosystem of enablers, already begun when right after the hackathon a few of the teams were invited to be a part of the Department of Science and Technology - Technological University of the Philippines - Hub for Innovation and Value Engineering (DOST-TUPV Hive).

Even those who did not get the seed fund have opportunities to collaborate with each other and the network of “Wala Usik Economy” built by this hackathon.

“Wala Usik” is a Hiligaynon phrase for circular design where "nothing is wasted" and in which our natural ecosystems are thriving.

This hackathon is organized by the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc. (PRRCFI) for the "Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter" project.

It is co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and jointly implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

and Expertise France.

The virtual events are in collaboration with the Design Thinking Factory, Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), Association of Negros Producers (ANP), Circulo, Save Philippine Seas, and Carlos Hilado Memorial State College - DTI Negros Occidental Center for Design, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Innovation, Good Ideas, Human Development and Technology Transfer (Delight).

The "Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter" project supports a transition towards a circular economy for plastics in seven countries in East and Southeast Asia to contribute to a significant reduction of marine litter.

The project works, among others, in the areas of plastic waste

management, sustainable consumption and production of plastics as well as the reduction of litter from sea-based sources to reduce plastic waste and its leakage into the sea.

Partner countries are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam as well as Japan and Singapore for selected topics. (PR)


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