Looking for new innovators in plastics


MBA Polymers’ Mike Biddle will be one of the final judges for this year’s Think Beyond Plastics competition, which hopes to find innovative solutions to the plastic pollution crisis.

The competition organisers hope to find wholly viable solutions in the areas of supply chain and infrastructure; source materials and packaging; products, services and business model innovations.

Applications will be assessed on how well they address the plastic pollution problem and judges will be looking for a clearly articulated outline of a viable business model and explanation of the supporting technologies required, where appropriate. Key success factors the judging team will be looking for include ecological and financial sustainability, scalability for a global market and simplicity.

And the stakes are high: Companies are competing for a first prize investment of $50,000 for an existing business, and $10,000 investment for the most innovative business idea.

The panel will be looking for entries which are either well-thought out proposals or operating businesses which are still at the growth stage.  Businesses must be able to prove that their proposition is viable, and that sustainable practices are at the heart of what they do. Each entry will be careful analysed by members of the judging panel, which is made up of eminent voices in the fields of industry, science and the environment and also includes Eben Bayer (Ecovative), Julie Corbett (Ecologic) and Mike Velings (A-Spark Good Ventures).

Finalists will pitch to a panel of investors

Finalists and winners will be announced during the Think Beyond Plastic conference in June 2013, which will take place at the David Brower Centre in Berkeley, California. Several pre-finalists, including Mycodev Group and Dirtball have already been selected and all finalists will be expected to pitch to a panel of investors, scientists, journalists and other cleantech experts on the day before the overall winner is announced and prize money awarded.

Discussing the competition, Dr. Mike Biddle said: “Plastics pollutions is a major issue facing our planet, and this competition is a fantastic way to spark innovative ideas and explore viable solutions. Simply eliminating the use of plastics isn’t viable or even desirable because plastics offer so many benefits, including environmental and human health and safety benefits, when properly managed throughout their lifecycles. Therefore, I’ll be particularly interested in solutions which address better management of our precious resources – not so much thinking beyond plastic as thinking smarter with plastics. We’ve already proved what is achievable, and I’m looking forward to hearing ideas which can take responsible plastics use and total resource management further in the context of complete lifecycle thinking – looking beyond just one or two aspects of a given material’s impact.”