A Global Call for Innovators – the No Waste Challenge

Our waste crisis has reached a tipping point. We can now visibly grasp the environmental damage of our wasteful tendencies. According to the UN Environment Programme, an estimated 11.2 billion tons of solid waste are collected worldwide each year, but what becomes of the waste that is not collected, contained and processed? The sobering reality is that uncollected waste finds its way into nature, into our waterways, into our oceans, and into our food chain.

In recent years, the horrific impacts of plastic waste in nature has been well documented. We’ve all seen the jarring images – sea turtles chasing plastic bags instead of jelly fish, albatross’ adults feeding their chicks plastic bits instead of krill, seals strangled by plastic rings – our plastic waste is impacting wildlife at alarming rates, the full extent of which we are only now beginning to grapple with.

But innovative solutions are within reach, and the No Waste Challenge seeks to bring these solutions to the fore.


What Design Can Do (WDCD), an international platform that uses design as a tool for ecological and social change, believes that if we can address the underlying root problems of waste, we have a fighting chance at building a future that works for both people and planet. WDCD believes in the power of design and creativity to transform society – design choices change how things are made, used and disposed.

Plastic Smart Cities – a WWF initiative – sees the start-up community as an important lever for innovation and change, and is a supporting partner for WDCD’s No Waste Challenge. This global design competition calls on all creatives and innovators to develop scalable solutions to address our global waste challenges. Winning ideas are awarded €10.000, and supported with a development programme co-created by Impact Hub.

Although waste is a global problem, many winning solutions can often be rooted in local contexts. To reflect this, the No Waste Challenge offers one global track alongside six localized tracks in major cities around the world: Nairobi (with partner Kenya Climate Innovation Center), Tokyo (with partner Shibaura House), São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (with partner Mandacaru Design), Delhi (with partner Quicksand), Mexico City, and Amsterdam.

Applicants can submit their proposals until 1 April 2021. In May, a jury of leading experts in design, social impact and climate action will select 10 winners.

For more information, or to submit your proposal, please visit the No Waste Challenge: nowaste.whatdesigncando.com

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