As part of the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is asking the question how can we make all plastic packaging recyclable?

The Circular Materials Challenge seeks ways to make all plastic packaging recyclable. Around 13% of today’s packaging, such as crisp packets, food wrappers and shampoo sachets is made of layers of different materials fused together. This multi-layer construction provides important functions like keeping food fresh, but also makes the packaging difficult to recycle. The challenge therefore invites innovators to find alternative materials that could be recycled or industrially composted.


What is the Challenge?

Love them or hate them, plastics are indispensable in our modern world. In fact, demand for them is expected to double in the next 20 years. Yet most plastic items are used only once before being discarded, often ending up polluting the environment. If nothing changes, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

So, how do we fix this? If we want to free our oceans from plastic, we have to fundamentally rethink the way we make, use and re-use plastics so that they don’t become waste in the first place. That’s why we are calling for innovators, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to find solutions that keep plastics in the economy, and out of the ocean. 


Download Full Challenge Brief


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Why participate?

Winners will receive $200,000 and exclusive access to a 12-month acceleration programme, with the opportunity to receive mentoring and support from New Plastics Economy participant organisations, to advance their innovations and demonstrate that their materials have the potential to be a viable alternative to non-recyclable multi-material laminated packaging. 

Partners & Sponsors

The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and has been launched in collaboration with the Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit. The Prize is funded by Wendy Schmidt, Lead Philanthropic Partner of the new Plastic Economy initiative.