WasteAid launches 10,000-pound Zero Waste Cities challenge

WasteAid, a UK-based international NGO, is launching the Zero Waste Cities Challenge to find entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas that help reduce or recycle waste and create green employment opportunities. The competition is part of WasteAid’s Circular Economy Network funded by Huhtamaki, which is running events across three cities: Johannesburg in South Africa, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, and Guwahati in India. Two winners in each city will be awarded 10,000-pound and business mentoring support to help make their idea a reality.

26 Apr 2021 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

Introduced in Guwahati, two winners from the city will be awarded 10,000-pound and business mentoring support

Michelle Wilson, director, WasteAid Circular Economy Network, said, “We are really excited to launch this competition in Guwahati. There are already some fantastic examples of the circular economy in the city. We hope that through the Circular Economy Network activities, and in particular the Zero Waste Cities Challenge, we can help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality.”

Currently, only a fraction of waste generated in Guwahati is recycled, and the remaining waste ends up at landfill or littered in the environment. WasteAid believes that local innovations hold the key to a green economy and can make the environment cleaner and healthier for the city’s population.

WasteAid’s Circular Economy Network is funded by Huhtamaki, a key global provider of sustainable packaging solutions, headquartered in Finland, and with one of its 81 production facilities in the north of Guwahati, above the Brahmaputra River.

Thomasine Kamerling, EVP, sustainability and communications at Huhtamaki, said: “Huhtamaki is proud to support this initiative which will help fast track local solutions to the circular economy. This initiative complements our own efforts to design for circularity and embed sustainability in everything that we do, both in our local communities and across our global enterprise.”

WasteAid has already organised a riverbank clean-up along the banks of the Brahmaputra River in Guwahati and witnessed overwhelming response, with 130 volunteers taking part in the initiative. WasteAid’s Guwahati-based project manager, Dinesh Bandela, said: “With the event, we were able to stop 44-kg of plastic from reaching the ocean. The participation showed citizen engagement and awareness towards inclusive waste management, and enabled us to learn more about the Circular Economy initiatives taking place in Guwahati.”

Shreeshendu Sekhar, co-founder of the Midway Journey, one of the organisations that volunteered in the event, said: “The city has a number of young entrepreneurs working towards reducing usage of plastics, may it be through alternatives (like pampearth) or recycling (zender bricks) or through awareness creation. What was lacking in the city was a platform to get all these people together, share the knowledge, invite innovations from outside of the city, as well as provide funding support. WasteAid’s technical expertise and the proposed seed funding is at the right time and at the right place. What we wish to see is the missing link being closed through the circular economy loop.”

The Zero Waste Cities Challenge will run over a period of six months. The application process is open until 19 June 2021. In 12 July, semi-finalists will be selected and will receive intensive business support to hone their idea and create a pitch. The final round will involve pitching at a Shark Tank event in front of a panel of industry experts. These panellists will then select the final two winners. Awards are likely to be made in October 2021.