Update: Due to the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Rethink Plastics Challenge Pitch Event and Awards have been postponed. Click here to read the full press release from IDB.
This is the English application for the Rethink Plastics Challenge.
From the planet's second largest coral reef system and the Patagonian highlands to the Amazon, the Latin America and Caribbean region is home to pristine natural resources that are vital to the livelihoods and economic prosperity of its citizens, as well as the health and wellbeing of the Earth and those that live here.
Plastics have proven to be one of the world's most important industrial innovations, changing industries across the globe from medicine to food, which is why it is so ubiquitous in our daily lives. However, plastics have also had immense adverse impacts on human and environmental health. The production of plastics from fossil fuels is the second largest and fastest growing contributor to industrial greenhouse gas emissions, the primary driver of climate change. Worldwide, one million single-use plastic bottles are purchased every minute and five trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, and only a small fraction of these end up being recovered. With the majority ending up in our natural environment, plastic waste leaches toxic chemicals in fresh water supplies, soil, and marine ecosystems.
Across a number of countries in the region, retail bans and taxes on plastic bags have led to reductions in usage; innovative methods of incentivizing neighborhoods have increased recycling; and mobile phone applications are helping individuals properly dispose of their garbage in the absence of formal waste collection services. Although these are promising steps in the right direction, Latin America and the Caribbean is well-positioned to develop and implement new practices to substantially reduce or eliminate plastic waste.
To reduce or eliminate the production of single-use plastic and plastic waste in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Inter-American Development Bank is seeking innovative solutions that:
- Shift business models away from the use of plastics in packaging and transportation;
- Reduce single-use plastics and waste through promoting consumer behavior change and incentivizing re-use and recycling; and
- Enable the public sector, especially municipalities, to pilot and implement new and innovative systems in their waste management systems.
Prize Funding for Rethink Plastics Challenge
The Rethink Plastics Challenge offers 60,000 USD in cash prizes, with a top prize of 30,000 USD. Additionally, the winning submissions could be considered for a pilot project financed by the IDB Group up to 250,000 USD subject to due diligence and internal approvals.