“The I-Drop Waterpod team are absolutely thrilled to win the inaugural SA Plastics Pact Reuse Innovation Challenge. This is particularly special given the amazing solutions presented by all the competitors, all of whom are a proud showcase of South African innovation in sustainability and new approaches to a more circular plastics economy,” said Kate Thiers, CEO of Waterpod by I-Drop.
Waterpod plans to build and grow the company’s reach to shop-owners looking for a convenient and simple way of selling purified water refills for a sustainable alternative to bottled water in single-use plastics. “It is up to us in business to create convenient and affordable choices for consumers to go single-use plastics free,” she added.
The first runner-up in the challenge was Sonke Retail, a company that gives consumers, retailers and brands an economic incentive to make environmentally sustainable choices. “Sonke designs, manufactures and manages automated refills stations that encourage shoppers to bring their own packaging – for a discount. Sonke refill machines are fully automated, ‘smart’, compact and can dispense up to three liquids,” said Eben De Jongh, founder of Sonke Retail.
Reacting to the announcement, the second runner-up Green Tap’s founder Carmen Francke said: “We are very grateful for the opportunity and generosity we have received, which will definitely assist our brand growth going forward. We are excited and would like to take some time to put a plan in place as to how we will be spending our winnings but we can say that we will be looking at a community initiative, a marketing campaign and a new product line.”
From over 45 entries, the following top six innovators pitched online to a panel of expert judges, hosted by SA Plastics Pact on 4 March 2021:
The judging panel was made up of local retailers and brand owners representing Unilever, Tiger Brands, Woolworths, Spur, Spar, Food Lovers Market and international experts in circular plastics, WRAP
The entries had to propose a reusable packaging solution that could be viably implemented by brand owners and retailers in South Africa. The solution had to be geared towards reducing the amount of single-use packaging in South Africa, ideally addressing currently non-recyclable plastics or plastics that are often littered.
As part of the journey towards reusable packaging solutions, the SA Plastics Pact, in partnership with the MAVA Foundation, offer their support to innovators and entrepreneurs in the plastics industry.
“For supporting a transition towards a circular economy of plastics, it’s crucial to have concerted and collaborative action across actors (businesses, government/local authorities, NGOs) and the value chain – like the South African Plastics Pact (SAPP) – to transform words into concrete actions.” said Nathalie Cadot, impact and sustainability at MAVA Foundation.
“We are thrilled by our collaboration with SAPP aiming to support the pact members’ effort to find reuse of packaging. We hope this first edition of the Reuse Challenge is just a start, many more editions will follow to promote South African reuse innovations and collaborations between startups and larger corporates,” she added.
The prize money totalling R500,000 will be shared among the three winners, with the potential for product development or implementation assistance through partner companies from the SA Plastics Pact membership.About SA Plastics Pact:
The South African Plastics Pact is working towards a circular economy for plastics, a South Africa where plastics are valued and do not pollute our environment. Part of the solution is to increase the number of reusable packing items used in place of single use packaging. The South African Plastics Pact is proudly delivered by GreenCape