How can we transition to a system free of single use plastics?

Read the brief


Challenge Update: 5/03/2019

We identified and clustered all submissions into key areas of opportunity that served to inspire and support the development of new solutions at the Beyond Next circularity festival. 

Read up on the first phase's results here, and check out the solutions under the "Refinement" tab.

Are you working or keen to work on similar solutions in your own city?  Get in touch with us!

The Brief

Plastics introduced a level of convenience to our lives that was previously unmatched.

The versatility and inexpensiveness of the material has made it extremely popular – and for good reason: plastic is incredibly useful. The way we currently design and use it, however, have turned plastic into one of the biggest challenges and dependencies of our time. Every year, for example, more than 22 million disposable cups of coffee are thrown away at Dutch train stations alone – about 415,000 coffee cups per week. 

Beyond alternative materials, we need new, radical, and systemic solutions for these single-use plastics – from straws and coffee cups to disposable utensils –, without compromising on the convenience they introduced into our lives in the first place.

How can we transition to a system free of single use plastics?


What will happen during the challenge?

Phase 1: Mapping out the problem and solution space online, on Circle Lab (December 19 - January 17)

Key opportunity areas, barriers to overcome, inspirational case studies, existing research, facts and figures, and other insights are crowdsourced from a global community of students and citizens and synthesised by the Circle Lab team for all to learn from and use in developing new ideas. Two winners per challenge will get a free ticket (worth €250) to attend Beyond Next, the circularity festival, and up to €1,000 in accommodation and travel expenses.

Phase 2: Developing new solutions at Beyond Next, the Circularity Festival (February 7, 8)

A curated workshop table of students and industry professionals will use key insights from the previous phase and collaboratively develop and prototype solutions relevant to the challenge question.

Phase 3: Implementing the solutions, beyond... Beyond Next! (Ongoing)

Stakeholders from all phases are invited to work on bringing the most promising solutions to life and, with the support of Circle Economy, together set a roadmap for and follow up on their implementation.

Why contribute?

By participating on Circle Lab, you are contributing to building an open-source community that supports new, innovative, and sustainable business models. Participating is also a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals that share your interest in how the circular economy applies to specific industries or fields.

For the Beyond Next Challenges in particular, up to 2 winners per challenge will get to win a ticket (worth €150) to Beyond Next, the circularity festival (Feb 7-8 in Amsterdam), as well as up to €1,000 in travel and accommodation costs.

How will winners be selected?

Each challenge comes with a contribution guide that details what kind of submissions we are looking for. We have established a point system to reflect the effort we believe each type of contributions involve, but we will also look at the quality and thought put into every single submission.

The more you participate, the more chances you have to win!

Want to contribute to this challenge? Start here:

1. Read the contribution guide >

(Optional) 2. 

3. Subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates about the challenge >

Or get your Beyond Next ticket straight away >



Challenge Timeline


Ideation phase has ended

Please refer to the Contribution Guide in the challenge brief above for more information on why, what, and how to contribute to this challenge, including any point systems used.