Innovation Competition Aims at Reducing Global Plastic Pollution Problem

plastic bottles

Curbing our plastic problem is no small task. That’s why the Plastic Pollution Coalition is giving away $50,000 to businesses working towards decreasing our plastic dependency.

Plastic Pollution Coalition, a global alliance working towards a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on people, animals and the environment, created the Think Beyond Plastic competition for innovative entrepreneurs working on solutions to the world’s serious plastic crisis.

The amount of plastic on the planet is nothing short of alarming. Each year, around 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally. Here in the U.S., only about the half number of plastic bottles produced wind up in recycling centers. The rest creep into crowded landfills, or our vulnerable oceans, creating serious harm to animals and ecosystems. Chris Jordan (Running the Numbers) has documented this tragedy as it’s impacting the helpless residents of Midway Island to a tear-jerking degree in his forthcoming film, “Midway: A Love Story For Our Time From the Heart of the Pacific.”

“Plastic pollution is a problem that the world has just begun to comprehend. Recycling is not an adequate solution to the increasing consumption of disposable plastic. We seek disruptive solutions that will reduce the planetary plastic footprint,” said Daniella Russo, co-founder and executive director of Plastic Pollution Coalition.

The global alliance, which was formed in 2009, has caught the attention of some major media outlets, companies, festivals and foundations. Jann Wenner, Editor and Publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the Think Beyond Plastic partners said, “Plastic pollution is a major environmental problem, and we are excited about engaging the spirit of entrepreneurship in the solutions.” Other partners for the contest include Apogee Digital, Bonnaroo, Conservation International, One PacificCoast Bank, FSB, The Sam and Peggy Grossman Foundation, and Tabor Communications.

Entrepreneurs working on products, services, materials and infrastructure solutions that can lead to a widespread decline in use of plastics are encouraged to apply. One existing business will receive $50,000 and the most innovative business concept will receive $10,000. The prizes are being underwritten by the Netherlands A-Spark Good Ventures, an investment company. Winners will be decided by Eben Bayer (Ecovative), Mike Biddle (MBA Polymers), Julie Corbett (Ecologic), Adam Lowry (Method), Dr. Ramani Narayan (Michigan State University), Mike Velings (A-Spark Good Ventures) and Adam Werbach (Yerdle). Submissions must be received by March 10th and the winners  will be announced at ceremonies in June in Berkeley, California.

For more information, view the competition trailer here.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.