2020 ASEAN-wide Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge winners announced

Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, presents prizes to the winners.

26 January, the four winning teams of the 2020 ASEAN-wide Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) were announced at a ceremony in Hanoi. The competition aimed at finding solutions to handle the plastic waste in the coastal cities of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, and on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand.

The EPPIC 2020 competition was launched last year on World Ocean Day by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the Vietnam Administration of Sea and Islands (VASI), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

14 out of 159 teams from six ASEAN countries including, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia were selected in September as the EPPIC finalists for their broad range of solutions including both upstream and downstream innovations. The finalists have since undergone a three-month incubation program combining technical training in areas of the circular economy, waste management, and business development skills with field trips to Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui. The ASEAN region is transitioning to a circular economy with solutions systematically addressing plastic pollution and promoting models that encourage re-use, community-based clean-ups, education campaigns, mobile apps, and the like.

Teams Galaxy Biotech, Green Joy, CIRAC, and Refill Day were the four teams with the most outstanding and innovative ideas and as the winners, each team was awarded $18,000 in equity-free seed funding to apply their solutions in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui. In addition, the four teams will also enroll in a nine-month impact acceleration program delivered by UNDP Impact Aim, with several opportunities to connect with impact investing firms and other key development players in the ASEAN region. 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.

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