Winners of the 2020 ASEAN-wide Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge announced

(CPV) - UNDP, MONRE, the Viet Nam Administration of Sea and Islands (VASI), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have announced the four winners of the ASEAN-wide Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) to combat plastic waste in the coastal cities of Ha Long Bay (Viet Nam) and Koh Samui (Thailand) in 2020.

EPPIC was launched in June 2020 in Ha Long Bay on World Ocean Day. 159 teams coming from six ASEAN countries (Viet Nam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia) applied to the challenge with a broad range of solutions to tackle plastic pollution including both upstream and downstream innovations. In September, 14 teams were selected as the EPPIC finalists and undertook a a 3-month incubation programme combining technical training about the circular economy, waste management, and business development skills with field trips to Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui. These 14 teams will contribute to accelerating the transition to a circular economy of plastic in the ASEAN region with solutions systematically addressing plastic pollution, such as alternative materials, recycling technologies, models that foster re-use, community-based clean-ups, education campaigns, mobile apps, and the like.

After a highly competitive  pitching competition, the four EPPIC winners were announced. They were Galaxy Biotech, Green Joy, CIRAC and Refill Day. They have each been awarded a USD$18,000 grant to apply the solutions in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui, and will be enrolled in a 9-month impact acceleration programme delivered by UNDP Impact Aim, with a number of opportunities to connect with impact investing firms and other key development players in the ASEAN region.

In the coming months, UNDP and VASI will continue to work with the local authorities in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui for the implementation of the innovations selected and incubated by the EPPIC project. 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 Viet Nam, Thailand, and ASEAN member states to effectively contribute to reducing plastic pollution.

A panel of seven prestigious judges selected the 4 winners of the EPPIC 2020: Kari Synnøve Johansen (Advisor, Norad), Leela Dilkes-Hoffman (Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation), Regula Schegg (Managing Director Asia - Circulate Capital Ocean Fund), Giulio Quaggiotto (Head of UNDP’s Regional Innovation Center for Asia Pacific), Supinya Srithongkul (Advisor to the Mayor of Koh Samui), Nguyen Le Tuan (Director General, VISI), and Hoang Viet Dung (Director, Sub-Department for Seas and Islands in Quang Ninh).

Mr. Ta Dinh Thi. Director General, Viet Nam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) said, “The results of the competition show the diffusion of the spirit of environmental protection and the responsibility of the community to solve the current global problem, plastic waste – a requirement throughout the sustainable development process.”

“Today, the EPPIC winners have pitched outstanding, innovative ideas to tackle plastic pollution and we are keen to working with them and our partners from the Governments of Viet Nam and Thailand to implement the solutions in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui. Today, we are also delighted to extend the EPPIC Challenge to Indonesia and the Philippines and welcome all innovators from ASEAN to apply. We believe there is a significant  opportunity for innovators from ASEAN countries to play a leading role in the fight against plastic pollution,” said Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam.

“Norad is proud to support UNDP Viet Nam’s Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC), as a part of Norway’s development program to combat marine litter. We need to come together, collaborate, and innovate to stop plastic pollution from reaching our oceans. We are impressed with these entrepreneurs commitment to create healthier environments and good jobs in a circular economy by reducing plastic pollution” said Stig Ingemar Traavik, Director for the Department for Climate, Energy and Environment of Norad.

The EPPIC Final Pitching Competition and Award Ceremony were live-streamed at the following links:

 English: https://www.facebook.com/undpvietnam/

 Vietnamese: https://www.facebook.com/OceanorPlastic/

During the event, the two locations of the Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) 2021 were revealed to the audience. Interested innovators are now welcome to apply and contribute to beating plastic pollution in Mandalika Special Economic Zone, Lombok Island (Indonesia) and Samal Island (the Philippines)./.

Khac Kien
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