Circular Design Challenge: Solutions

How might we get products to people without generating plastic waste?

Update October 2017: Recently several product designs were selected as finalists – some were specific products and others looked at changing the system altogether. Stay tuned for an upcoming article featuring what we think are the top 5.

Only 14% is recycled, resulting in a loss of USD 80-120 billion per year to the global economy. Did you know that most plastic items are used only once before being discarded?


Want to be a part of the solution? You can and you can participate in many stages of design, input and feedback is welcome throughout each challenge at OpenIdeo.


As part of the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, the Circular Design Challenge asks the question:

How might we get products to people without generating plastic waste?

The Challenge targets small-format items – which makeup 10% of all plastic packaging – and include things like sauce and shampoo sachets, wrappers and tear-offs, straws, takeaway coffee cup lids and bottle caps. These items generally don’t get recycled, either because they are so light and small they get filtered out in automated sorting processes, or because they are not worth the effort to be collected and sorted manually.

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If nothing changes, there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050.

So, how do we fix this? If we want to free our ocean from plastics, 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.

The Circular Design Challenge seeks to inspire creatives to design solutions for plastics packaging to stay in the economy, and out of the environment.

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