New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize

Amcor is proud to be a Core Partner in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastics Economy initiative.

19 May 2017
Amcor is proud to be a Core Partner in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastics Economy initiative, which recently announced a $2million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize to help find solutions that keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment.

Plastic is an integral and versatile part of our packaging system. It’s also a material that presents some unique challenges - research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) has found that most plastic items are used once and then discarded, adding to waste and putting pressure on our environment and oceans. 

The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize aims at inspiring designers, entrepreneurs and scientists to help build a circular economy for plastics by developing new materials, redesigning formats, and rethinking delivery models to eliminate plastic packaging waste. 

We’re an active Core Partner of the New Plastics Economy initiative and support wholeheartedly both the aims of the prize and, more broadly, the objectives of the initiative.

Accelerating Innovation

Launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with HRH The Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit, the award aims to accelerate innovations in product design and materials science to reduce plastic wastage.

Funded by Wendy Schmidt as Lead Philanthropic Partner of the initiative, the Prize will run with support from more than 40 participants, including core partners like Amcor, and well-known brands such as The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, MARS, Novamont, PepsiCo, Unilever and Veolia. In addition, OpenIDEO and Nine Sigma are on board as Challenge partners.

Together, we will identify the brightest and best innovations that will contribute to keeping plastics in the economy, where they belong, and out of the ocean. 

Roelof Westerbeek, president of our Flexibles business in Asia Pacific, and Dave Clark, vice president of Safety, Environment and Sustainability, represented Amcor at the launch. Roelof described Amcor’s commitment to improving the environmental profile - including enhancing the ability of plastic packaging products to be recovered and recycled:

“Through the New Plastics Economy Initiative, Amcor is contributing our global packaging expertise to help design plastic packaging that has value in a circular economy,” said Roelof. “We are deeply committed to sustainability and working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and we welcome the commitments to sustainable packaging being made by major consumer-goods companies and our customers."

“We welcome the commitments made by major consumer goods companies, our customers, to sustainable packaging and Amcor itself is deeply committed to sustainability and working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation,” he said.

David explained that the circular economy is core to the New Plastic Economy initiative.
“The circular economy for plastics is gaining traction within our industry and beyond,” said David.

“Amcor people are applying their packaging knowledge to increase the volume of packaging that has the potential to be recycled and reused, better protecting people and the environment.”

How to Enter the NPE Innovations Award

To inspire applicants, the award presents two parallel challenges:
  1. Circular Design Challenge 
    This Challenge asks applicants to rethink how we can get products to people without generating plastic waste. 
    It will focus on the kind of small-format packaging items like shampoo sachets, wrappers, straws and coffee cup lids - which make up 10 per cent  of packaging waste and are not typically recycled. 
  2. Circular Materials Challenge 
    Currently, around 13 per cent  of packaging is made of a fusion of layers containing different materials.
    This multi-layer construction (found in things like crisp packets and food wrappers) keeps the contents fresh but is hard to break down. Innovators are invited to find alternative materials that could be recycled or industrially composted to help make all packaging recyclable. 

Amcor worked alongside the other partners, as mentioned above, to help create challenges that will inspire applicants to explore compelling solutions with the potential to ultimately shift the market. 

What Could Plastics Innovators Win? 

Successful innovators can win:
  • Up to $1,000,000 in grants for the Circular Design Challenge, shared by multiple winners at different stages of solution development
  • Up to $1,000,000 in grants for the Circular Materials Challenge, shared equally by up to five winners
  • Access to The New Plastics Economy Innovation Accelerator, a 12-month program offering exclusive access to industry experts, commercial guidance, feedback on user and scalability requirements, advice on performance expectations, and access to innovation labs for testing and development
  • Visibility of their solutions to major businesses, the innovator community and the public

The awards will be judged by a broad range of senior executives from major businesses, widely recognized scientists, designers and academics.

Find out more about Amcor’s commitments and achievements in sustainability in our 2016 Sustainability Review.

David Clark
Vice President Safety Environment & Sustainability