Many countries have turned their attention to reducing plastic pollution and promoting plastic circularity over the past ten years. In order to tackle many of the biggest socioeconomic and developmental issues facing the globe today and work toward a sustainable future, the United Nations unveiled 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Up to 12 of these SDGs deal with plastic pollution either directly or indirectly.

India took the lead in pledging to reduce plastic pollution in 2018 by declaring the phase-out of single-use plastic by 2022. Government, business, and civil society organisations are all making an effort to address the problem through the three Rs: reduction, reuse, and recycling. Indian businesses are searching for alternatives at every stage of the value chain, but they require capital, technical support, and strategic advice in order to scale up their solutions. An effort to provide this critical assistance is being made with the launch of the TRANSFORM Plastics Challenge by Unilever, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and EY in partnership with Social Alpha.

The competition aims to foster the growth of technology-driven Indian entrepreneurs engaged in circularity and plastic waste management. It invites their participation in creating approaches to processing plastic waste, economically sound plastic reuse, refill models, as well as advances at the material or substrate level that make plastic packaging recyclable or compostable. Five firms will get up to Rs 1.6 crore each through grant money and equity investments, along with mentorship and scale-up help, after being selected from among the applications submitted for the challenge. The application deadline is September 30, 2022.

“Many businesses concentrating on resolving climate concerns are emerging in the Indian startup ecosystem. The TRANSFORM Plastics Challenge seeks to ensure that plastic waste does not end up in landfills and oceans, but rather stays in the circular economy, where it truly belongs, by inviting startups that are already developing innovative and scalable solutions in plastic circularity. Prashanth Venkatesh, Marketing Director, Brand Unilever & Sustainability at Hindustan Unilever Limited, says this goal.

These firms’ focus areas on waste management and circularity are essential to the Unilever Compass, which directs the company’s growth ambition. HUL wants to eventually give the companies it meets through the challenge the chance to partner with the supply chain that best fits their needs.

“Entrepreneurship powered by innovation has huge potential to address the problem of plastic waste and create impact through new material innovations, material recycling, comprehensive packaging redesigns, and possibly a more fundamental rethinking of delivery to the end-customer,” says Smita Rakesh, Vice President, and Partner at Social Alpha. Given their expertise in assisting social companies, we are pleased to partner with TRANSFORM. Partnerships are the key to fostering new and scalable solutions.

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