Plastics for Change winners of Unilever-Acumen Social Innovation Challenge on Plastics

Out of 90 teams, Plastics For Change was crowned the winner for developing a business model that manage plastic waste and create sustainable livelihoods. 

Your bin gets collected from your doorstep. Have you ever wondered about the 3.5 billion people who lack this luxury? 

Unfortunately, developing regions dispose of trash on street corners, burn it or dump it in nearby rivers. Informal waste-pickers sort through this trash and are responsible for 90% of recycling activities. 

Unilever and Acumen recognised the key role of waste workers to manage plastic waste. They developed the ‘Social Innovation Challenge on Plastics’ to generate new ideas to stop plastic waste contaminating the environment and focusing on solutions that improve the lives of people living in poverty. 

More than 90 teams pitched their business models. Plastics for Change was one of three winners proving that we can reimagine the collection and processing of plastic to improve lives and the environment.

“We are trying to create livelihoods for people who do not have a lot of opportunities,” said Andrew Almack, founder of Plastics for Change. “Simultaneously, we’re working quickly to transition to a circular economy, because time is running out on this issue.”

It is rare for someone to browse grocery shelves and find recycled plastic. However, we are losing up to 120 billion in lost revenue for throwing away plastic. Plastics for Change has developed a marketplace that makes it easier for global brands and manufacturers to source high quality recycled plastic from responsible supply chains.

By purchasing through the platform, manufacturers can be assured that waste pickers worked in safe facilities and were paid a decent income.

Plastics For Change has already transitioned global cosmetic brand The body Shop to fairly traded recycled plastic. The team has expanded to 3 new locations and is nowhere close to slowing down. 

See more information about the Unilever-Acumen Social Innovation Challenge on Plastics.