UNEP Marine Plastic Innovation Challenge 2017 for university students

Application Deadline: 6 October 2017.

  • UN Environment and Think Beyond Plastic launch worldwide innovation challenge for university students to fight plastic in oceans
  • Winners to attend the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego, California and receive free mentorship to help them develop their ideas

Marine plastic is an economic, environmental, human health and aesthetic problem posing a multi-dimensional challenge to humanity, often compared to climate change in terms of impact, breadth and complexity. A challenge of this magnitude has already inspired a global surge in search for solutions.

In order to accelerate the search for solutions, UN Environment and Think Beyond Plastic™ are launching a Marine Plastics Innovation Challenge to engage university students and faculties in a solutions-oriented effort to help solve the global marine litter problem.


  • One winner in each category will be announced at the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego, California, (March 12-16, 2018) .
  • Winners will have the chance to present their ideas at the conference and gain entry into the Think Beyond Plastic annual acceleration program.

To participate, students need to be enrolled in university as of June 2017, be supported by a faculty member, and submit an entry in one or more of the following categories.

Design and engineering track (enter here)

For the most innovative engineering solution and a business plan to prevent plastic pollution entering into the marine environment through innovations in material, technology or product design/re-design. We are open to a range of opportunities, from early stage innovations to near-market solutions that have the potential to be funded and manufactured to scale.

Communications track (enter here)

For the most innovative and creative communications product to support the goals of UN Environment’s global CleanSeas campaign on marine litter. Entries might be mobile apps, creative communication strategies, music, short film, media, story-telling or any other products that demonstrate capacity to reach and engage large groups of people in addressing the marine plastics issue. Actions must aim for measurable reduction of the problem and reach of the communications product. Creativity is encouraged.

Monitoring, prediction and recovery track (enter here)

Looking for Most innovative Prediction and / or Risk-based recovery tool or methodology to identify and model marine litter hot-spots. These may include areas of high marine litter accumulation, which may vary

with storm events; biodiversity hot-spots; important fishing grounds and/or fish nurseries; and/or particularly sensitive and fragile areas of the marine ecosystem. May include improving/testing the use of remote sensing technologies.

Economic impact track (enter here)

For the most innovative, accurate, and complete valuation method or model for marine litter effects and a robust and up-scalable model to value the direct (tangible) and indirect (intangible) economic effects of marine litter. Also of interest are economic valuations of alternative materials, approaches and investments in end of life or upstream solutions to marine plastics. The challenge also encompasses innovative ways of financing preventative interventions (for example self-sustaining methods through re-use, recycling etc.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the UNEP Marine Plastic Innovation Challenge 2017​


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