The problem with plastic: EUSIC launches in Ljubljana

  • Gary Fawdrey

    Gary Fawdrey

    Assistant Programme Manager

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The 2019 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition opened last week with a day of talks, debates and workshops based around innovative ideas to reduce levels of plastic waste.

Innovators, entrepreneurs and policymakers were brought together on Thursday 28th February for the launch of the 2019 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition at Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia – officially opening this years competition for entries. Run by the European Commission in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos and now in its seventh year, the Competition calls all Europeans to come up with solutions to the problems affecting our society. Every year three prizes of €50,000 are awarded to the best ideas that aim to tackle a social problem faced by communities across Europe.

Ljubljana is a sustainability pioneer and former European Green Capital, that collects 68% of its waste separately (more than any other European capital). Furthermore, two recent Winners of the European Social Innovation Competition are from Slovenia, demonstrating a burgeoning social innovation ecosystem in the country. Ljubljana was therefore a natural choice to host the launch event for this year’s competition: Challenging Plastic Waste.

Dejan Crnek, Vice-Mayor of Ljublajana

The event started with Janet Southern McCormick, Programme Manager at Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre and primary organiser of the Competition giving an overview of the previous 6 editions and the support package on offer. Dejan Crnek, Vice-Mayor of Ljublajana then officially welcomed guests to the city before Jose Antonio Morales from local consultancy Lincoln Island Initiatives gave an overview of the social innovation ecosystem in Slovenia. Matevz Strauss, whose HeritageLab project was a 2018 Winnerof the Competition shared insight from his experience last year. Mark Nicklas, Head of Unit, Innovation and Investment for Growth at the European Commission then officially launched the 2019 Competition, before a panel of this year’s expert Judges – including Mircea Ilie, IKEA Romania; Esta Tat, Zero Waste Europe and Milena Glimbovski, Original Unpacked – discussed the theme of Challenging Plastic Waste.

A panel of this year’s expert Judges

Guests then had an opportunity to participate in breakout innovation sessions, exploring possible solutions for this year’s challenge based around the sub-themes of:

  • Recycling, reusing, and upcycling existing plastic waste
  • Dealing with accumulated plastic waste in landfills and the environment
  • Changing consumer behaviours, retail and wider business practices to reduce levels of plastic waste or increase recycling and re-use
  • Implementing alternative business models and optimising supply chains to reduce plastic waste or increase recycling and re-use
  • Introducing new materials fit for a circular economy, that offer sustainable alternatives to fossil-based plastics

The event then drew to a close with networking drinks and a chance to view the Toasted Furniture art exhibition by Nuša Jelenec and Nina Mršnik, which showcased the artists’ innovative method of actually toasting plastic waste, transforming it into beautiful and colourful panels, which are then used as the building blocks for furniture and lighting. This offered a fantastic and creative example of Challenging Plastic Waste.

Toasting plastic waste

Entering the European Social Innovation Competition 2019

Anyone aged 18+ living in the E.U. or Horizon 2020 Associated Countries can enter. All you need is an idea!

30 Semi-Finalists from across Europe will be chosen to receive a package of support from experienced social innovators to further the development of their ideas. Finally 3 Winners are chosen to each receive €50,000! We are looking for ideas from social innovators, entrepreneurs, students, designers, businesses, and anyone else who wants to help challenge plastic waste. APPLY HERE

This blog post originally appeared on eusic.challenges.org

The European Social Innovation Competition is a challenge prize funded by the European Commission since 2013. It is delivered by Nesta, in partnership with Kennisland, Ashoka Spain,ENoLL and Scholz & Friends.

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