What Design Can Do (WDCD) has announced the thirteen winners of the Make it Circular Challenge, representing innovative strategies for building a more circular society. Initiated in partnership with the IKEA Foundation.
The Make it Circular Challenge asked creative entrepreneurs worldwide to come up with circular products, services, spaces and systems that would help us tackle the root of the climate crisis.
Participants were encouraged to submit their projects in one of five categories, representing key value chains and industries like consumer goods, packaging or food.
The 13 winning projects are divided loosely among these categories, but also closely relate to the three fundamental aspects of circularity: designing to last, working with nature and using what already exists.
Projects that focused on the entire lifecycle for products and designing with this in hindsight. This approach can be seen in projects like Alterist Marketplace (United Kingdom), a community-led platform for upcycled products; Nivogo (Türkiye), a pioneering circular economy startup refurbishing and recirculating products collected from users and partners; and Balena (Israel), a new kind of bioplastic that is both durable and compostable.
Projects that approached this challenge towards working with nature and bringing about a more-than-human approach to design include: Mujō (Germany); a biodegradable packaging made from seaweed; Apidae (Mexico); a system of breeding boxes for pollinating insect; CoolBricks (the Netherlands and Uganda); a bio-stabilized brick made from cow-dung; Landless Food (Hungary) a project that highlights the issue of food insecurity and explores the potential of microalgae to regenerate extinct flavour families and revive culinary traditions; and Drinking Sea Water by Libre Water (Germany) an Open Source purification device that can make nearly any water drinkable at a household level.
Projects that focused on reuse and recovery included Resortecs (Belgium, a startup that is developing solutions for textile disassembly and recycling; Guiding the Runoff (Mexico); an adaptive reuse and urban renewal project in Tijuana; Mexico.
In particular; three projects looked at how crop waste could be used to create new products: Rethread Africa's (Kenya) textile solution uses maize husk residue to reduce resources and emissions. Saathi (India) offers biodegradable sanitary pads made from banana fiber, while Craste (India) creates packaging from crop residue using circular fiber technology.
Work now begins on strengthening each winning idea, deepening their potential impact, and putting their ideas into through a development training. All 13 winning teams will receive €10.000 in funding, and access to the development programme co-created with Impact Hub Amsterdam.
The Make it Circular Challenge is What Design Can Do’s fourth climate action challenge in partnership with the IKEA Foundation. Launched in October 2022, the design competition called for bold solutions in providing in-depth design, original research on circularity and highlighting opportunities for designers and entrepreneurs alike.