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Trending: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Corona Roll Out New Partnerships to Keep Oceans Plastic-Free

Image Credit: Corona x Parley

The problem of marine plastics continues to be a top priority across the globe, spurring even more businesses and organizations to dig in their heels and find create new solutions to the growing issue.

Continuing its efforts to keep plastics out of the ocean, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has teamed up with The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit to launch a $2 million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize.

Demand for plastic products is expected to double in the next 20 years, but only 14 percent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, with the remainder, worth $80 – 120 billion, lost as waste. If this momentum continues, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. The new Innovation Prize aims to keep plastics as valuable materials in the economy and out of the ocean.

“We must fundamentally rethink the way we make and use plastics,” said Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “We need better materials, clever product designs and circular business models. That’s why we are launching the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, calling for innovators, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to help create a plastics system that works.”

The Prize, which is funded by Wendy Schmidt as Lead Philanthropic Partner of the New Plastics Economy Initiative, consists of two parallel challenges supported by NineSigma and OpenIDEO.

  • $1 Million Circular Design Challenge: This challenge calls on applicants to rethink how we can get products to people without using disposable packaging. Small-format packaging items (10 percent of all plastic packaging) such as shampoo sachets, wrappers, straws and coffee cup lids, which are rarely recycled and most often end up in the environment, will be the focus of this challenge.
  • $ Million Circular Materials Challenge: The Circular Materials Challenge seeks to make all plastic packaging recyclable. Innovators are asked to find alternatives to the multi-layer construction commonly used in food wrappers that could be recycled or composted.

Applicants will be judged by a panel of senior business executives, scientists, designers and academics. Solutions will be assessed against a broad range of criteria selected by challenge partners and participants of the New Plastics Economy Initiative — including Amcor, The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, MARS, Novamont, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Veolia.

In addition to receiving funding, Challenge winners will enter into a 12-month accelerator program offering exclusive access to industry experts, commercial guidance, feedback on user and scalability requirements, advice on performance expectations and access to innovation labs for testing and development.

“Working towards circularity in the way we make, use, and distribute plastic packaging will revolutionize the scale of the human footprint on our planet, hugely reducing plastic waste and its devastating impact on ocean health,” said Schmidt. “The value of keeping materials in the economy is massive compared to the losses we suffer when plastic leaks into the very living systems we depend upon for our survival. The New Plastics Economy Prize is a call for creative design and technical innovation at a critical time.”

HRH The Prince of Wales will deliver the keynote speech at the launch event. At a meeting, earlier this year with business leaders, designers and material experts, The Prince emphasized the urgent need to rethink the global plastics system and highlighted the important role of innovation and design in the transition to a circular economy and keeping plastics out of our oceans.


Meanwhile, Corona is partnering with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans, to protect 100 islands across the globe against marine plastic pollution by 2020. The long-term partnership will target six key regions — Mexico, Maldives, Australia, Chile, Italy and the Dominican Republic.

Corona will apply Parley’s signature multidisciplinary AIR Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign) across its supply chain, leading to a long-term innovation pipeline to reduce and eventually replace plastic items that are currently in use. Additionally, the brand will focus on employee education and reduction of plastic use at all brand events, including the company’s Corona Sunsets festivals.

“We needed to take a stand and protect the heart and soul of our brand,” said Thiago Zanettini, Global VP of Corona. “Corona is present in more than 180 countries and we have the opportunity and the responsibility to use that reach to be a voice for the oceans.”

The partnership builds on Corona’s commitment to take care of the outdoors and initiatives such as its ‘Save the Beach’ project, which engages local communities around the world to do beach cleanups. The brand already avoids plastic by using wood across its promotional materials and serving Corona in metal buckets.

“Plastic is a design failure,” said Cyril Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans. “To raise awareness and immediately reduce the production of new plastic, we invented Ocean Plastic from upcycled marine debris and developed a formula for long-term change — the Parley AIR Strategy: Avoid plastic, Intercept plastic debris; Redesign materials, products and the ways we use them.”

“In Corona, we found the perfect partner to bring this philosophy and strategy to a new territory: the beverage sector. Economy caused this plastic problem in the first place, but with the transformative power of collaboration and eco-innovation, we can make it the key to the solution.”

Parley for the Oceans has also been working with Adidas to create Parley Ocean Plastic™ edition footwear for the sportswear company’s signature UltraBoost, UltraBoost X and UltraBoost Uncaged shoes, which it brought to market earlier this month.


Libby MacCarthy is an Editorial Assistant at Sustainable Brands, based in Maine and France. She is a former urban planner specializing in sustainable cities, and an urban farming and film photography enthusiast. She holds a BA in Environment, Society and… [Read more about Libby MacCarthy]


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