WasteAid launches €10,000 Zero Waste Cities Challenge in Guwahati: A global initiative targeting a local problem

Innovation and entrepreneurship are increasingly being recognised as important to achieve the sustainable development goals, and sustainability goals in general, especially in the urban context. Cities in the global south have been struggling with managing their waste as the cities itself have been growing rapidly. To solve this big problem, smart minds need to come up with innovate solutions which fosters the ideals of circular economy and sustainability. WasteAid, a UK based international NGO, is giving the opportunity to local entrepreneurs and smart minds in the city of Guwahati, through funding and intensive business support, to tackle the problem of waste management in the city.

WasteAid launched 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 and business mentoring support to help make their idea a reality.

Michelle Wilson, WasteAid Circular Economy Network Director said: “We are really excited to launch this competition in Guwahati today. 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 organized 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 organizations 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 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 the19th June 2021. In July 12 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.

To find out more and enter, please visit www.circulareconomynetwork.co.

About WasteAid

  • WasteAid is a leading international development organisation on a mission to tackle the global waste crisis. 2 billion people do not have their waste collected and 3 billion lack a decent disposal site, leading to the spread of disease and polluting the air, land, rivers and oceans. WasteAid works around the world to reduce waste and recycle materials, creating green employment opportunities and a cleaner environment.
  • The WasteAid Circular Economy Network is a two-year programme funded by Huhtamaki that seeks to amplify and fast-track waste reduction and collection/recycling solutions in three cities: Johannesburg in South Africa, Guwahati in India and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.
  • The Zero Waste Cities Challenge is a key highlight of the Circular Economy Network programme, which also includes events, training opportunities and a series of webinars to inform and inspire people, and help accelerate progress towards a circular economy.

About Huhtamaki

Huhtamaki is a key global provider of sustainable packaging solutions for consumers around the world, enabling wellbeing and convenience. Their innovative products protect on-the-go and on-the-shelf food and beverages, ensuring hygiene and safety, and help prevent food waste. They are committed to achieving carbon neutral production and designing all their products to be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2030.

With 100 years of history and a strong Nordic heritage they operate in 36 countries and 81 sites around the world. Their values Care Dare Deliver guide their decisions and help their team of 18,200 employees make a difference where it matters. Their 2020 net sales totaled EUR 3.3 billion. Find out more about how they are protecting food, people and the planet on www.huhtamaki.com.

For more information:

Dinesh Bandela
Circular Economy Network Project Manager

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