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The Circular Design Challenge

All it takes to change the world is one idea, and the necessary help to execute it.

The New Plastics Economy Innovation prize given by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation together with The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit promotes a new way of thinking about how we make, use and reuse plastics so that they don’t become waste in the first place. They collaborated to create the Circular Design Challenge, which accepted entries from individuals and organizations with innovations that can get products to people without generating plastic waste. Over 600 ideas were submitted to win, and we have the pleasure to announce that MIWA won the top award.

The challenge encouraged innovations with a circular use pattern, rather than linear, so that today’s waste can become tomorrow’s resources. Much of the plastic used and produced is discarded, which equates to a loss of 80-120 billion dollars per year to the global economy. This is why the New Plastics Economy initiative seeks innovators who can create new business models, product designs and better materials. A business model built on preventing waste before it happens (precycling) is at the core of what MIWA works towards and what was appreciated by the challenge jury. 

The judging panel worked together to make the final decision and included representatives and senior executives from major businesses, widely recognised scientists, designers and academics. Panelists included Tim Brown (CEO, IDEO), Jeff Seabright (CSO, Unilever), Dr. John Warner (President, Warner-Babcock Institute), Scott Seydel (Chairman, The Seydel Companies), and a number of senior executives from companies including Amcor, Veolia, Pepsico, Mars and Nestlé, as well as academic and regional experts from companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone. The prize of 200,000 dollars was funded by Wendy Schmidt of The Schmidt Family Foundation and was given to MIWA along with a 12 month-long accelerator program to advance our project. Simply said, this exciting opportunity to connect with innovative and like-minded experts and organizations will help us bring our concept to reality. 

Our progress has no finish line. It is important for us to gain expert opinion and advice to constantly improve MIWA. With this generous prize, we plan to further develop our technologies including the smartphone application, information system and bulk modular system. We will also devote ourselves to learning and improving our concept during the 12 month-long apprenticeship. An ambitious initiative like this will certainly help the world devise a plastics system that works so that we “keep plastics in the economy, and out of the ocean.”

We would like to give a huge thanks to everyone involved in the challenge. Contributions and aid from key organizations can make a healthier planet possible. The MIWA team is thrilled to be a part of this process and we are sure that positive change is in the near future.

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