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Afri-Plastics Challenge Calls For New Ideas & Innovative Solutions To Reduce Or Eliminate Plastic Usage Across Sub-Saharan Africa

Press Release

Oct. 6, 2021, 3:13 p.m.

The Afri-Plastics Challenge has now launched its second strand, Creating Solutions. This Strand invites individuals or organizations with a new or early-stage idea that seeks to reduce or eliminate plastic usage across Sub-Saharan Africa to apply for the Afri-Plastics Challenge.

In recent years, the demand for plastic has substantially increased in Sub-Saharan Africa with over 17 million tonnes of waste generated by the region annually, of which only 12% of plastic waste is recycled. While scaling plastic waste collection and recycling is crucial, it cannot solve the problem alone. The quantities of waste produced easily outpace the development of waste management systems, and recycling is still not an economically or technically viable option for several types of plastic.

The Afri-Plastics Challenge aims to reduce marine plastics in Sub-Saharan African countries by finding ways to minimize reliance on plastic, develop new ways of managing plastic waste, and/or develop new uses for plastic that has been discarded. This challenge is designed for innovators and entrepreneurs across the African continent. The Challenge’s first strand, Accelerating Growth, was launched in July 2021 and it is ongoing.

For the second strand, Creating Solutions, 25 finalists and three winners will be selected by a panel of experienced and professional judges who will assess the entries. The applicants’ ideas will be evaluated against criteria such as innovation, empowerment of women and girls, social impact in the community, environmental impact, and the applicants’ capability to achieve success.

Judges include Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, UN Environment Programme Director & Regional Representative for Africa, Matthew Haden who is a solid waste management expert, and Radhia Mtonga, a Zambian social entrepreneur. "It's extremely exciting to be part of an initiative committed to finding innovative solutions that promote the circular plastic economy while simultaneously improving the social-economic standing of women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa," says Radhia Mtonga.

By the end of the second strand of the Challenge, successful community-centered products and services will have demonstrated a sustainable approach to reducing the reliance on plastic that also supports the empowerment of women and girls. In the long-term, the development and scaling of the innovators’ solutions will encourage the creation of new, sustainable local enterprises, bringing economic opportunity to these communities and contributing to poverty reduction.

For more information and to apply for the Afri-Plastics Challenge Strand 2: Creating Solutions, click here. Applications close on Wednesday, 01 December 2021 at noon GMT. The Afri-Plastics Challenge is funded by the Government of Canada and delivered by Nesta Challenges.

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About Nesta Challenges

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills, and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We've spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we've applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation, and the creative economy and arts.

Within Nesta, Nesta Challenges, based in London, in the United Kingdom, exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivize people to solve these issues. We are independent supporters of change to help communities thrive and inspire the best placed, most diverse groups of people around the world to take action.

We support the boldest and bravest ideas to become real, and seed long-term change to advance society and build a better future for everyone. We are part of the innovation foundation, Nesta. We are challengers. We are innovators. We are game-changers.

About Government of Canada

As part of the commitment to reduce marine plastics globally, the Government of Canada has launched a project aimed at improved plastic management in sub-Saharan Africa; the Afri-Plastics Challenge aims to reduce marine plastics in Sub-Saharan African countries by developing and scaling innovative solutions to plastic mismanagement. The Afri-Plastics Challenge places particular emphasis on promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. While not limited by gender, the challenge encourages women and girls to participate by submitting their solutions.

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