Earlier this month, students, scientists, sustainability experts and big brands came together at Imperial College London to discover new ways to tackle the ever increasing issue of plastic pollution.

The Plastic Hackathon, created by sustainability campaigner Dhruv Boruah and developed and run by Dr Leila Sheldrick from Imperial took place at the College’s Dyson School of Design Engineering.

Over 100 people came together to find suitable solutions to help tackle global plastic pollution, including industry experts, scientists, students and sustainability champions from businesses such as Just Eat and Marks & Spencer.

Teams were challenged to find alternatives to current plastic packaging

As part of the Hackathon, teams were challenged to find alternatives to current plastic packaging, or design solutions that promote its reuse. This was focused on five key areas: grocery packaging, grab and go food, takeaway meals, internet shopping and personal care items. Imperial students from the Dyson School of Design Engineering supported the teams as they developed their projects.

The teams then pitched their ideas to an expert panel of key industry representatives, entrepreneurs and impact investors.

The winning team, called ‘Mindful Minis: Sample, Travel, Repeat’, focused their efforts on reducing plastic pollution at airport security, where an estimated 5000 tonnes of plastic waste is thrown away every year. Their idea is a system of pop-up shops selling reusable pouches of cosmetics which could then be returned and reused at other airports with partnered stores.

Other finalists included the ‘Tupper Club’ who attempted to reinvent the lunchbox and takeaway dining experience using a Tupperware ‘drop and wash’ subscription model. 

Leader Dhruv Boruah said: “The Hackathon was another example of how Imperial College London and its students are pioneering innovation right from idea generation to execution.”