The open call for the WDCD No Waste Challenge is now officially closed! From bioplastic made from banana peels, to the world’s first flower upcycling hub, an incredible wealth of ingenious ideas have poured into the competition, which was launched earlier this year in collaboration with the IKEA Foundation. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that a grand total of 1409 projects have been submitted by innovators from all over the world —more than ever before in WDCD’s challenges.

For Richard van der Laken, creative director of What Design Can Do, the strong showing is a testament to the creative industries’ capability to take on some of the world’s most pressing issues. “I’m floored by the level of commitment and innovation we’ve seen in this open call,” he says. “Creatives are taking on our waste problem from every angle – and en masse. It’s a sign of powerful change, and that brings me hope.” 


Behind the scenes, work now begins on the next, pivotal phase of the Challenge. Over the next few weeks, over 100 creative and industry leaders from various sectors will join the No Waste Challenge selection committee, including experts in circular design, climate action and social impact. Their mammoth task? To review every entry and come up with a shortlist of nominees.

Hailing from various corners of the globe, the selection committee includes at least ten members from each of the Challenge cities: Amsterdam, Delhi, Mexico City, Nairobi, Tokyo, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. They will have until 27 May to evaluate the entries online, and select the eventual nominees for the global track as well as for every city track. Besides rating each submission against the four main criteria for projects (Impact, Creativity, Feasibility & Scalability), each member will also provide expert feedback on how entrants could improve or refine their solutions. 

What else will they look out for? “I am excited to learn what the contestant’s view of circularity is,” reveals circular economy expert Bezawit Eshetu (Ethiopia), who signed on to evaluate entries for the global track. She adds: “What new solutions and opportunities did they think of to address the gaps and challenges in their community, and what entrepreneurial idea did they come up with to make business cases out of their ideas?” 

“We’ll be looking for groundbreaking ideas with a long-term view.”

Joining her on the committee is the design duo behind Studio Formafantasma (Italy), who are similarly on the look-out for lasting impact. Their top priority? “Groundbreaking ideas with a long-term view.” Of course, the best projects are also those with a balanced vision, notes Manon Klein from Impact Hub, who will bring her extensive expertise in entrepreneurship to the table. She’s excited to spot “the potential in both business and social impact” amongst the nominated projects.


What all members seem to share, is a sense of optimism tied to the sheer number of creatives who have joined the movement to design out waste. “I am looking forward to just being part of this global awareness that we need to change quickly towards sustainable consumption,” says Tjeerd Veenhoven (Netherlands), a biomaterials designer. “Surely the submissions are all a great testimony that we are in this together, and that even though it’s challenging, solutions are coming!”

Other names in the selection committee include Aaron Nesser (USA), co-founder of Algiknit, architect Monish Siripurapu (India), food innovation specialist Jeroen Wouters (Netherlands), and service designer Magda Kochanowska (Poland). The full list of members will be published very soon, and nominees will be announced on 27 May, after which they will have two weeks to further improve their applications before the international jury begins their evaluation.

Keep an eye on the No Waste Challenge Platform for all the details, and to view the entire catalogue of published projects. Congratulations to all who participated, and good luck!



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