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British inventions win global sustainability prize

British start-up, SoluBlue, has won the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge and has been awarded €500,000 to help consumers cut down on food and plastic waste with its innovative packaging solution.

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Ayca Dundar, co-founder of SoluBlue.

Revolutionary packaging start-up, SoluBlue, has been awarded the top prize of €500,000 from the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge, one of the world’s largest annual sustainability competitions.

The Cambridge-based start-up beat over 650 start-ups from across Europe to be crowned the latest winner and will now use the prize money to scale up its technology for pilot production among retailers.

SoluBlue wowed the Jury by revealing its potential to revolutionise the way we store food to eliminate plastic and food waste. Its innovative packaging stops food from rotting by absorbing excess moisture so that packaged food gradually dries instead, meaning many everyday foods stay fresh for more than 50% longer. Food types, including cheese and fruit, were even found to stay fresh and safe for consumption after two years in SoluBlue’s packaging.

The seaweed-based packaging is also 100% natural and non-toxic. It will completely biodegrade in a normal household compost bin within just eight-weeks, as opposed to many plastic alternatives that need commercial composting facilities. SoluBlue’s packaging also has the same look and feel as conventional plastic, so consumers and companies can reduce their plastic use without having to compromise on the look and feel of their packaging.

Commenting on SoluBlue’s win, Ayca Dundar, co-founder of SoluBlue, said: "Winning Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge 2020 is an incredible achievement and honour for us. Winning the top prize is not only going to revolutionise our growth plans, but it will provide further confidence to investors that our technology is the future. We’ve proven that our packaging works so now is the time to show the food industry and consumers that SoluBlue can help create a cleaner and greener planet!"

For the first time in its 13-year history, the competition has both a British winner and runner up.

Jiva Materials is this year’s runner up and has been awarded a total of €200,000 to scale up the world’s first fully recycled printed circuit board to tackle the world’s mounting electronic waste.

Jiva Materials impressed the Jury with its ability to drastically improve the recyclability of electronic products, radically reducing the need to mine rare and precious metals used in many of our electronic devices, from washing machines to lighting.

Jiva Materials produced the world’s first fully recycled printed circuit board.

Jiva Materials has created a flax based printed circuit board, Soluboard®, which can be simply separated in hot water so the metals in electronic devises can be easily and safely extracted for new purposes. Soluboard® can be easily integrated into supply chains and so has the potential to make a huge impact in reducing carbon emissions in the production chain.

Commenting on the results, Jack Herring, CEO and founder of Jiva Materials, said: "Electronic waste is increasing at an alarming rate, but now Jiva Materials is one step closer to tackling it. The prize money from Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge is going to transform Soluboard, propelling Jiva Materials from our R&D phase to offering customers a product that significantly cuts their carbon footprints and electronic waste worldwide."

The Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge is hosted by People’s Postcode Lottery in Britain and its sister lotteries in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and German. The competition awards champion start-ups from across these nations that successfully combine sustainability, entrepreneurship, and creativity to help tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges. Over 650 start-ups applied to the competition in 2020.

Commenting on the announcement, Clara Govier, managing director at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: "Well done to SoluBlue and Jiva Materials for their exciting and ground-breaking inventions. These innovative start-ups now have the potential to accelerate their route to market with the competition prize money and the additional mentoring support provided by the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge. Thanks to the players of Postcode Lottery who have raised over £150 million for environmental charities, we will hopefully see these game-changing products in use and see the transformational impact they will have on the planet in the not-too-distant future."

The competition’s six finalists were announced on 1st September 2020 and were each awarded €100,000 and a place on a bespoke accelerator programme. The finalists then pitched their business models to the international jury on 30th September before the jury made its final decision in February 2021.

The competition will re-open on 1st March 2021 where a new round of start-ups will get the chance to be crowned next year’s winner. All information on the competition and how to enter will be published at www.greenchallenge.info.

According to data from the Global E-Waste Statistics Partnership, 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste were generated around the world in 2019, equivalent to 7.3 kilograms per person.

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