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Wanted: sustainable packaging – US$ 25 000 reward

Global – A consortium of US industry-related groups, led by Scientists Without Borders (SWB), has issued a singular public challenge to researchers around the world: come up with a sustainable packaging solution for the micronutrient powders (MNPs) used to combat malnutrition. And this attempt to spur innovation comes with a reward tag of US$ 25 000.

The most common type of packaging for MNPs comprises a foil packet composed of aluminium, PET and polyethylene. Though these materials provide excellent protection for the contents against extreme heat, humidity and UV light, together they are difficult to recycle or destroy, argues the consortium. The sustainability problem is further complicated by ‘€˜extremely limited’€™ waste systems at refugee camps.

The global challenge will run for a period of three months, supervised by an independent panel of leading experts convened by SWB which will select the challenge champion. The reward of US$ 25 000 will go to the most novel, feasible and cost-effective sustainable packaging ideas; the winner will also have the opportunity to collaborate with other leaders in the field to develop the idea.

‘€˜Under-nutrition is a challenge that urgently requires innovation to go from evolutionary to revolutionary progress,’€™ explains Shaifali Puri, SWB’€™s Executive Director. ‘€˜This means that breakthroughs in science and technology, as well as novel applications of existing solutions and know-how, are required. Finding effective solutions for this challenge is going to require multiple ideas from multiple different minds, and we’€™re excited to contribute to that with this challenge.’€™

Dr Mandana Arabi, Director of The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences, one of the partners on the project, adds: ‘€˜We are thrilled to support this challenge to encourage scientists and development professionals to think outside the box and come up with solutions that can lead to more efficient, equitable delivery of effective nutrition interventions.’€™

SWB is a digital, collaborative community dedicated to generating, sharing and advancing innovative science and technology-based solutions in response to the world’€™s most pressing development struggles. Other partners mobilising their global network include DSM’€™s non-profit nutrition think-tank, Sight and Life, InnoCentive and PepsiCo.

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