Winners of 2020 ASEAN-wide Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge announced

Wednesday, 2021-01-27 10:12:16
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Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, presents prizes to the winners.
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NDO – The four winners of the 2020 ASEAN-wide Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) competition to deal with plastic waste in the coastal cities of Ha Long Bay (Vietnam) and Koh Samui (Thailand) were announced at a ceremony in Hanoi on January 26.

>>> Innovation Challenge launched to tackle plastic pollution in ASEAN

EPPIC 2020 was launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Vietnam Administration of Sea and Islands (VASI), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the occasion of World Oceans Day last June.

A total of 159 teams from six ASEAN countries (Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia) applied to the challenge with a broad range of solutions to tackle plastic pollution, including both upstream and downstream innovations. In September, 14 teams were selected as the EPPIC finalists and undertook a three-month incubation programme combining technical training about the circular economy, waste management, and business development skills with field trips to Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui. These 14 teams will contribute to accelerating the transition to a circular economy in the ASEAN region with solutions systematically addressing plastic pollution, such as using alternative materials, accelerating new recycling technologies, promoting models that encourage re-use, community-based clean-ups, education campaigns, mobile apps, and the like.

A member of team Green Joy presents their solution in the final competition.

After a highly competitive pitching competition, the four ideas developed by teams Galaxy Biotech, Green Joy, CIRAC and Refill Day were announced as the winners. These teams have each been awarded US$18,000 in equity-free seed funding to apply their solutions in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui and will be enrolled in a nine-month impact acceleration programme delivered by UNDP Impact Aim, with a number of opportunities to connect with impact investing firms and other key development players in the ASEAN region.

In the coming months, UNDP and VASI will continue to work with the local authorities in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui for the implementation of the innovations selected and incubated by the EPPIC project. The aim is to support the uptake of these innovations into the project sites and accelerate the scale-up and replication of these solutions in Vietnam, Thailand, and ASEAN member states to effectively contribute to reducing plastic pollution.

VASI Director General Ta Dinh Thi speaks at the ceremony.

Speaking at the ceremony, VASI Director General Ta Dinh Thi stated that the results of the competition show the diffusion of the spirit of environmental protection and the responsibility of the community to solve the current global problem of plastic waste – a requirement throughout the sustainable development process.

Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, speaks at the event.

“Today, the EPPIC winners have pitched outstanding, innovative ideas to tackle plastic pollution and we are keen to work with them and our partners from the Governments of Vietnam and Thailand to implement the solutions in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui,” said Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam.

During the event, the two locations of the 2021 EPPIC competition were revealed, including Mandalika Special Economic Zone, Lombok Island (Indonesia), and Samal Island (the Philippines).