Brock University students are being asked for ideas to breathe new life into single-use plastics.
Submissions are now open for Brock’s inaugural Social Innovation Idea Challenge, which aims to get students thinking about some of society’s most pressing issues.
Open to Brock undergraduate and graduate students, the challenge is currently looking to generate innovative ideas to address the growing problem of plastic waste.
Single-use plastics are defined by the United Nations Environment Program as “items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.” This includes plastic utensils, plastic shopping bags, stir sticks, ring carriers, plastic takeout containers and plastic straws.
According to the Government of Canada, only 9 per cent of single-use plastics are recycled. Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and close to 57 million straws are used daily. In addition, single-use plastics make up most of the plastic litter that is found in freshwater environments.
So what can be done with all of this excess plastic? Students are invited to share their ideas.
Working individually or in teams, students are asked to submit a 400 to 600-word description about their idea, or they can choose to submit a two-minute video. The submissions should explain the idea, product or process for managing single-use plastics. This can include reusing and upcycling, but students are encouraged to think outside the box and to think big. Submissions, which can be completed through the Brock LINC website, are due Thursday, March 10.
All entries will be open to public voting and will also be reviewed by a judging panel that will select the winning submission. Three prizes will be awarded, with the winning entry receiving a $500 cash prize, with an additional $500 donated to the winner’s charity of choice. Two People’s Choice Award winners will also receive $250 each.
The Social Innovation Idea Challenge is organized by Brock’s Social Innovation Group, a collaboration led by Professor Wesley Helms and Professor Shawna Chen at the Goodman School of Business, along with Goodwill Niagara, Brock LINC and the Brock Experiential Education team.
The Social Innovation Group works with the Brock and wider Niagara community to co-develop innovative solutions through experiential education to address social issues in the region.
The Social Innovation Idea Challenge will feed into a Social Innovation Design Challenge taking place this fall.