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Rich pickings for smart NY recycling idea

An American entrepreneur has launched a competition for the smartest way of taking some of New York’s waste and re-purposing it into a marketable product.

NYC Curb-To-Market Challenge has a US$500 000 prize for the most efficient, sustainable and environmentally aware means of sourcing and converting recycled waste for the manufacture of a product in the city. The cash comprises US$100 000 cash and a US$400 000 equity investment in the successful start-up. The winning team or individual will also receive advice from CTMC founder and entrepreneur Chris Graff, as well as access to a network of advisors and investors.

Driving innovation

‘As a manufacturing guy, I see opportunity everywhere I look,’ says Graff. ‘In New York, we have tons of raw material, tons of manufacturing space and tons of hardworking, talented people. Putting all of those things together is a winning combination, and that’s where I hope we’re headed. Manufacturing drives innovation more than any other sector in the US, and I’m certain there’s a brilliant idea out there to help us strive toward a more circular economy.’

 The application period will remain open until 1 June. A panel of judges will select the finalists who will be flown to New York in June to present to the panel. The winning business should be announced on 1 July.

Low recycling rate

The cause is a good one: a report last year from Transform Don’t Trash NYC, a group campaigning to transform the city’s commercial recycling, estimated a rate of 21% for the commercial trade waste stream. The group said that in 2017 New York City waste transfer stations moved an additional 200 000 tonnes of commercial waste to landfills and incinerators compared with the previous year – up by more than one-fifth since 2015.

‘The challenge comes at a critical moment as New York City drives towards a more circular, zero-waste future,’ says Bridget Anderson, deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability at the New York sanitation department. ‘In NYC, we have many recyclable materials that have not been effectively leveraged in the regional marketplace. The NYC challenge will help address this inefficiency while creating jobs for hard-working New Yorkers.’

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