Ready to meet the winners of the WDCD No Waste Challenge? Earlier this evening, a total of 16 ground-breaking ideas were selected for the top prize, representing a wide range of strategies for reducing waste and its impact on the planet. Each winning team will now gain access to €10.000 in funding and an extensive development programme designed to launch their ideas into action.

“The quality and range of entries we’ve seen in this Challenge is remarkable,” comments Richard van der Laken, co-founder and creative director of What Design Can Do. “In a turbulent year, it’s particularly inspiring to see that the creative community is willing and able to break away from decades of linear thinking and bad design. I’m hopeful that others in the industry will follow their lead.”

The winners were determined by an international jury who reviewed every project from a list of 85 high-potential nominees.  Among the ideas to take home the top prize are solutions that focus on the production process – aiming to revolutionise the taking and making of all the things we use and eat. Sustrato (Mexico), for example, combines traditional craft, contemporary design and waste from the pineapple industry to develop a range of sustainable bioplastics. Modern Synthesis (UK) makes use of a similar waste stream, this time from apple farms, to feed microbes that grow fully circular fibers for the fashion industry. 

Meanwhile, other winners are unified by their desire to uproot entire value systems. These projects are looking to prevent waste by addressing the underlying problem of consumerism. (Argentina) for example, is a service which connects individuals to local cobblers and repair shops, working to promote a culture of care and the right-to-repair. Similarly, Project R (Japan), is a community centre that empowers citizens to learn about circular techniques and lifestyles. Together, these winners suggest inventive ways for us to reconcile what we want with what the planet needs. In doing so, they also help to redefine design as a tool that can be restorative and regenerative, instead of merely productive or destructive. Congratulations to all!




Packing Up PFAS

SUBMITTED BY: Emy Bensdorp (Netherlands) | TRACK: AMSTERDAM

PFAS are toxic chemicals that pose a growing problem for both human health and the environment. This initiative offers a clean-up solution through a process that turns polluted soil into clean ceramic bricks. 

Carbon Tile

SUBMITTED BY: Tejas Sidnal (India) | TRACK: DELHI

A startup upcycling carbon recovered from tyre pyrolysis waste into beautiful materials and architectural products. 


SUBMITTED BY: Andrea Michael De la Peña Aguirre (Mexico) | TRACK: Mexico City 

Combining ancient techniques, contemporary design and waste from the pineapple industry, Sustrato develops sustainable materials and products including rope, bioplastic and felt.

RADIAL biofabrication platform

SUBMITTED BY: Ricardo Muttio Limas (Mexico) | TRACK: Mexico City

Using fungal biotech, RADIAL transforms agricultural waste into carbon neutral materials, replacing styrofoam, MDF as well as animal and plastic leathers.

Hagamos Composta

SUBMITTED BY: Gerardo Montes de Oca Sierra (Mexico) | TRACK: Mexico City

Hagamos Composta strives to give everyone the opportunity to compost their organic waste responsibly, offering home pick-ups in colourful buckets. 

Nyungu Afrika

SUBMITTED BY: Mary Mureithi (Kenya) | TRACK: NAIROBI

Nyungu Afrika has set out to reduce period poverty with their biodegradable, low-cost period products made from pineapple and corn husk waste.


SUBMITTED BY: Peter Gachanja (Kenya) | TRACK: NAIROBI

A unique technology using benign organic chemicals to turn dirty diapers into fuel and construction materials.

Wastewater to Green Parks


This project turns wastewater into lush greenery using an innovative hydroponic system to host macrophyte plants, which acts as a natural filter.

Dapoda: design living lab

SUBMITTED BY: Tiago Schutzer (Brazil) | TRACK: SÃO PAULO & RIO

Dapoda collects organic waste from urban tree pruning, and investigates new ways to extend its value through experimental products and designs.

Project “R”

SUBMITTED BY: Yasuyuki Fukatsu (Japan) | TRACK: TOKYO

An upcycling centre and ‘living lab for sustainability’ inviting people to learn about circular design techniques and lifestyles. V2.0

SUBMITTED BY: Melina Scioli (Argentina) | TRACK: GLOBAL  

An online repair directory which makes it easy to find local repairers, to promote a culture of care and the reduction of waste. 

Modern Synthesis


Employing microbes to grow customisable and fully circular biomaterials for the fashion industry using local agricultural waste, like those from apple farms.

Clothing Loop

SUBMITTED BY: Lena Hartog (Netherlands) | TRACK: GLOBAL

The Clothing Loop makes it easy and fun to share bags of pre-loved clothes by connecting people in local communities.



Mapu Preto are sound systems handmade out of clay that reunite traditional crafts and technology through heritage-led-innovation.

Living Coffin

SUBMITTED BY: Bob Hendrikx (Netherlands) | TRACK: GLOBAL

The world’s first living coffin: a fully biodegradable casket made out of mycelium fungi, which turns into compost within 45 days. 

UnPlastic: Waste is optional!

SUBMITTED BY: Francois Schockaert (Netherlands) | TRACK: GLOBAL

We upcycle food production and brewery waste to make new and compostable packaging materials.

About the No Waste Challenge

What Design Can Do and IKEA Foundation launched the No Waste Challenge in January 2021, calling for bold solutions to address the enormous impact of waste on climate change. The competition was open to innovators everywhere, and offered three design briefs tackling different aspects of our take-make-waste economy. In April, the open call ended with an exceptional 1409 submissions from creatives in more than 100 countries. As part of the No Waste Challenge award package, sixteen winners will now enter a development programme co-created by Impact Hub, which will propel their projects through 2022. 

Learn more about the No Waste Challenge at: 


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