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Award for circular economy startups opens for entries

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The annual Green Alley Award for businesses that are part of the circular economy is on the hunt for the most innovative ways of tackling Europe’s waste

Entries are now open for the 2020 Green Alley Award, which champions businesses in Europe that are creating innovative new technologies and solutions for making a circular economy a reality.

According to EU calculations, the European economy could save up to €680bn (£570bn) for businesses, create 580,000 new jobs and reduce carbon emission by as much as 450m tonnes by 2030 through increased resource efficiency.

In 2016, some 2.5bn tonnes of waste was generated by homes and businesses across the EU states, while only 53.5 per cent was treated in recovery operations such as recycling, according to figures from the European Commission.

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The Green Alley Award, which was launched in 2014 by the Landbell Group, a Germany-based supplier of environmental and chemical compliance solutions, supports businesses that are taking on the challenge of reusing and minimising waste.

Companies shortlisted during the six years the award has been running are tackling issues such as food miles, plastic packaging and plasterboard waste.

Previous winners include Aeropowder, a UK-based startup that creates thermal packaging from waste feathers, and Sulapac, a Finnish company that has created a micro-plastic-free, biodegradable straw.

Finnish company Sulapac previously won the Green Alley Award with their micro-plastic-free, biodegradable straw. Image: Sulapac

Infarm, a German company providing technology for supermarkets to grow herbs and vegetables on-site, was a finalist for the 2015 Award and has since expanded into more countries, including the UK and the US. Marks and Spencer launched Infarm’s technology into several of its stores in September last year.

In 2019 the award was picked up by Gelatex Technologies, which creates a leather-like fabric using gelatine, a waste byproduct created in meat farming.

“We realised that our technology could enable [us] to make use of the abundant waste of leather and meat industries,” explains co-founder Märt-Erik Martens. The aim is to create a material that can be a full substitute for leather. While the current strategy is to focus on creating fabric for fashion and apparel, in the longer term the company hopes to develop a material suitable for furniture and upholstery in vehicles.

Last year’s award was won by Gelatex Technologies, which creates a leather-like fabric using waste byproducts from meat farming. Image: Gelatex

There is €25,000 prize money for the Green Alley Award 2020 winner, plus support and networking opportunities for all finalists.

The award is open to businesses based in Europe with a product, service or technology that is helping to build the circular economy by using: digital circular economy solutions; recycling solutions; or ideas for waste prevention. Startups have until 10 June to submit their entry.

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