Following the winners in Ho Chi Minh City being announced yesterday, the final round of the Zero Waste Cities Challenge in Guwahati, India, took place today. The finalists have been through an eight-week business mentoring programme to become pitch ready.

The finalists presented a wide range of interesting and original ideas to a panel of esteemed judges, who had the difficult task of selecting just two winners. These organisations will be awarded €10,000 seed funding and free business support for their circular economy enterprises.

Guwahati semi finalists

The winners of WasteAid’s Zero Waste Cities Challenge in Guwahati are…

Inside Out

Hailed as the most troublesome weed in the world, water hyacinth is notorious for creating ecological imbalance and waste in Guwahati, the only wetland state of Assam. The Inside Out duo have developed a process for converting the plant into paper and crafts. Their solution recovers value from what is otherwise an ecological problem and reduces the demand for wood pulp from local forests.

Inside Out

Shree Guru Plastic

Shree Guru Plastic has been operating in Guwahati for a decade, turning low-value contaminated plastic into thin film for damp course by the construction industry. The demand for such films is high and Guwahati is the regional hub of its distribution. Shree Guru Plastic is aiming to scale operations to provide employment for an additional seven collectors from marginalised communities, and a further 15 women in the factory.

Shree Guru Plastics

Ceris Turner-Bailes, WasteAid CEO said: “The range of innovations presented in the Zero Waste Cities Challenge in Guwahati is testament to the vast opportunities on offer from building an inclusive circular economy. Poorly managed waste impacts communities in many ways and it’s a delight to be able to support two fantastic small businesses as they seek to reduce pollution and bring material benefit to marginalised groups.

“Inside Out has identified an invasive species, water hyacinth, and developed a technique to turn a problem into a societal benefit. The menace of water hyacinth is shared in many parts of Asia and Africa and we hope that other communities can benefit from this innovation.

“Likewise, Shree Guru Plastic has mastered the art of turning low-value, contaminated flexible plastic – one of the most ubiquitous and challenging waste streams globally – into a valuable product that improves people’s living conditions. Shree Guru Plastic’s business model provides livelihoods for vulnerable and marginalised people, demonstrating the broad societal benefits of sustainable resource management.

“We have been thoroughly impressed by all of the participants in the Guwahati round of the Zero Waste Cities Challenge and would like to thank them for their enthusiasm and contribution to a cleaner, fairer world. We would also like to thank the judges and the sponsor of WasteAid’s Circular Economy Network, Huhtamaki, as without their support this would not have been possible.”

The judges for the Guwahati round of the Zero Waste Cities Challenge were:

Swati Singh Sambyal, Waste Management Specialist, UN-Habitat

Sanjib Bezbaroa, Vice President: Corporate EHS, ITC Ltd

Gautam Mehra, Deputy Team Leader of Circular Economy Solutions, GIZ India

What’s next

In addition to Guwahati and Ho Chi Minh City, the Zero Waste Cities Challenge is also running in Johannesburg, with the final taking place tomorrow – watch this space for exciting updates!

The winners in Guwahati, India, will soon be receiving their seed funding and business support, and we will be sharing updates over the coming months.

Be sure to visit our dedicated website and follow the social accounts on Twitter: @circeconnetwork and LinkedIn: WasteAid’s Circular Economy Network for the latest updates.

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