Elena Dieckmann and Ryan Robinson are the co-founders of Aeropowder, an award-winning UK startup producing plummo, a thermal packaging material made from waste feathers from the poultry industry. The entrepreneurs created plummo as a sustainable alternative to expandable polystyrene insulation, which has a devastating impact on the environment. Using the surplus feathers, which would otherwise be converted into a low grade animal feed, Aeropowder creates a high performance insulation textile covered with compostable food-grade liners, enabling more sustainable deliveries and embracing a circular economy.
Gator Halpern and Sam Teicher are the co-founders of Coral Vita, an environmental startup restoring the world’s degraded and threatened reefs. Using land-based coral farming, Coral Vita grows resilient corals up to 50 times faster than natural rates. The company is also able to boost corals’ resilience against climate change, so that the corals they plant into reefs are able to withstand the warming and acidifying oceans that threaten their survival. Through ecological scale restoration projects, Coral Vita revitalises reef systems to preserve the ocean’s unique biodiversity and to help protect the communities, industries, and nations that depend on healthy reefs.
Andrew Almack is the founder of Plastics for Change, a social enterprise that reduces plastic pollution and poverty in developing countries by creating income opportunities for waste pickers. The India-based initiative is the first fairtrade, ethical sourcing platform to help formalise the informal recycling economy and improve the quality control process for recycled plastic.
“There is no silver bullet that will solve this grand challenge, however plastic waste can be an enabler of sustainable livelihoods,” said Almack. “Recycling and reuse creates at least nine times more jobs than sending the waste to landfills. With three billion people globally living without waste collection services and another 4.5 billion at the base of the economic pyramid living on $5 per day or less, there is an enormous opportunity to create positive change through inclusive recycling initiatives.”
Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien are the founders of FoodCloud, a Dublin-based online platform and app connecting British and Irish businesses with surplus food to local charities. Food retailers on the FoodCloud system upload descriptions of surplus dry and canned goods, and registered charities then receive a notification telling them that food is available for collection. FoodCloud also maintains storage Hubs to receive ad-hoc and regular surplus food from suppliers. The FoodCloud service and the surplus food is free for charities collecting from their local food retailer, and all food collected from the Hubs is available at operational cost. To date, the social enterprise has saved approximately 20 thousand tonnes of food, saving charities more than €61.5 million.