Finalists announced for the Zero Waste Cities Challenge


Author: Admin

Published: 13 October 2021

WasteAid’s Circular Economy Network has announced the finalists of its Zero Waste Cities Challenge, an innovation competition for green entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, Ho Chi Minh City and Guwahati.


The competition was launched to find grassroots solutions to resource efficiency, waste collection and recycling in South Africa, Vietnam and India.

More than 100 small business owners, social entrepreneurs and product innovators entered the competition, which will eventually see the top six awarded €10,000 prize money and business mentoring to bring their ideas to life.

Following an eight-week business bootcamp, 12 semi-finalists in each hub pitched their circular economy business concepts to panels of esteemed judges, and the most promising 15 have now been selected.



Finalists in Johannesburg, South Africa

Bokashi Bran

Bokashi Bran has a vision to produce the highest quality bokashi to divert food waste from landfill sites. Bokashi is a composting technique that enables all types of food waste to be returned back to the natural environment. Using the bokashi system saves landfill space and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 98%.





BoombaDotMobi collects organic waste from its paying customers and the wider community to transform it into compost. This is achieved through black soldier fly composting, vermicomposting and heat composting. The team then sells the quality compost product back to local farmers and their community.



Carbon Footprint Recycling

Carbon Footprint Recycling focuses on niche solutions for non-recyclable printer cartridges. Most cartridges end up in landfills and become hazardous. The team diverts, collects and dismantles them. The mild steel and aluminium are traded to recyclers while other materials are reused to make concrete-based products.



Makhabisi Recycling

Makhabisi Recycling & Trading is a 100% black and female-owned company that collects dry recyclables in Johannesburg, diverting them from landfill and prolonging their value. The company aims to drive awareness, educate the community and create a more sustainable environment for local people.




Tash The Recycling Guy

Tash The Recycling Guy was born out of the Tshwane innovation challenge for local students. Their entry to the semi-finals was focused on a small, modular machine that compresses plastic waste to reduce its volume, allowing for easy and efficient transport to a recycling facility.



Judging panel in Johannesburg

Douw Steyn, Director of Sustainability, Plastics Federation of SA

Anele Sololo, Chairperson, National Recycling Forum

Ntokozo Majola, Executive Manager, Seda

Camilo Ramada, Senior Advisor, Business Finland

The final round will be held virtually on 21 October, 2021.



Finalists in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Green Connect

Green Connect has created a mobile app, Green Points, which uses gamification to make green living easier and more enjoyable. The app incentivises people to take green actions, such as recycling or using less plastic, rewarding them with a virtual currency that can be exchanged for a range of benefits or donated to charity.





Papa’s Dreamer

Papa’s Dreamer is a brand that is creating a green value chain for shower and hygiene products, cutting down poisonous wastewater released into the environment in the process. The team are guided by their ethical production principles, including setting a daily limit of production and avoiding nylon as well as plastic.





In Vietnam, secondhand marketplaces do not exist. At the same time, 70% millennials prefer eco fashion, yet 43% admit to throwing an item away after just one use. Rechic aims to be Vietnam’s first pre-loved fashion marketplace, curbing consumption habits and keeping clothing in use for longer.




University of Economics

Based in Ho Chi Minh City, the University of Economics has a goal to build the first zero waste university. How? Through the adoption of The Three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) and by running campaigns to raise awareness as well as to encourage behavioural change across the community on campus.




Veca is a mobile app that connects scrap sellers and dealers on Android and iOS platforms, supporting the scale of waste proactively and with complete transparency on prices. Through the innovation, the team are revolutionising the way informal waste pickers work and helping to divert huge amounts of waste from landfills.


Judging panel in Ho Chi Minh City

Sam Wood, Deputy Head, British Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City

Uyen Mai, South East Asia Sustainability Leader, Dow Chemical

Matteo Chiampo, Director of Operations, SecondMuse Singapore

Klaus Oberbauer, Programme Manager, SecondMuse Singapore

The final round will be held virtually on 19 October, 2021.



Finalists in Guwahati, India

Golden Feathers

Golden Feathers diverts chicken feather waste from reaching the landfill and converts it into fibre that can be used to make insulation material and handloom apparels. The work already provides better economic and social opportunities for more than two hundred tribal women in India.



Inside Out

Hailed as the most troublesome weed in the world, water hyacinth is notorious in Guwahati for creating ecological imbalance and waste. The Inside Out duo have found a way to make paper out of the weed in the only wetland state of Assam, reducing the need for wood pulp. Crafts are also made from the weed.



Ittisha Sarah

Founder of the Northeast Waste Collective, Ittisha Sarah is finding ways to ensure the safe recycling of printed circuit boards. Her innovation is aimed at integrating the formal and informal sector in e-waste management. The idea will also contribute to securing the livelihoods of the informal workforce.



Midway Journey

Midway Journey is seeking to scale its already successful pilot project, Power of 300, which collects and recycles dry waste from 300 households in exchange for a fee while supporting the informal waste sector. The team has a goal to serve 3,000 households, aiming to collect 15 tonnes of recyclable waste every month.



Shree Guru Plastics

Already an established business, Shree Guru Plastics is looking to increase the recycling capacity of its facility in Guwahati. How? Through use of better technology to extend the life of low value and contaminated plastics – which are often left out from the recycling chain and end up in the city’s only waste disposal site.


Judging panel in Guwahati

Sumit Jugran, Sustainability and CSR Manager, Tetra Pak

Sanjib Bezbaroa, Vice President: Corporate EHS, ITC Ltd

Gautam Mehra, Deputy Team Leader of Circular Economy Solutions, Giz India

The final round will be held virtually on 20 October, 2021.



Congratulations to all the finalists, and our thanks to all the business mentors for helping them become pitch-ready!

WasteAid would also like to extend our gratitude to the esteemed judges in each of the three cities, who will be selecting the final winners.

Please follow the WasteAid Circular Economy Network on LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest updates.


The Zero Waste Cities Challenge is part of WasteAid’s Circular Economy Network, funded by Huhtamaki.


Written by Zoë Lenkiewicz