The inaugural Singapore waste-tech startup competition, WASTE 20/20, hosted by StartupX, and in partnership with Enterprise Singapore and The Incubation Network, today officially crowns local waste-technology startup Magorium as the grand winner. With their proprietary technology that converts plastic into high quality asphalt premix used for road construction, Magorium managed to stand out among tough competition to clinch the top prize and secure a funding of SGD25,000.
Tackling the Global Waste Problem with Innovation
Singapore faces a unique challenge in dealing with waste, with its only landfill at Semakau projected to completely fill up by 2035. While efforts are underway to extend the lifespan of the landfill and recycling initiatives have helped stabilise the amount of trash sent for incineration, waste generation continues to climb with population and economic growth.
Beyond Singapore, countries around Southeast Asia continue to deal with the growing accumulation of plastic and other waste, on land and in their waters, as the region is home to some of the world’s top marine plastic polluters. Most of these pollutants include single-use plastics such as plastic bags, cups, straws and bottle cap seals — the common by-products of an unchecked demand for consumer products. Poor infrastructure development coupled with rapid urbanisation and economic growth has done little to help the waste problem.
WASTE 20/20 is designed to identify waste-tech startups that are tackling some of the biggest challenges in the collection, management and treatment of food and plastic waste in Singapore and beyond. The competition hopes to encourage more waste management companies to adopt automation and digitisation, and nudge more innovative companies and startups to capture value from the waste sector. The inaugural edition saw over 100 waste-tech startups applying from over 32 countries globally. Eight startups were shortlisted to pitch at the finals, with entries hailing from Singapore, India, Israel, UK and the United States.
Durwin Ho, CEO of StartupX said, “WASTE 20/20 has demonstrated the need for us to do more to accelerate innovation in the waste space. We aim to bridge the innovation gap for the traditional waste sector and drive a collaborative approach between startups and waste incumbents to tackle the global waste problem. This is only the beginning, and we will continue to invest efforts to support innovation in the waste space in years to come.”
Among the other finalists, Indian startup Ishitva Robotic Systems placed second with their AI- powered, automated waste-sorting robotic system, that effectively and efficiently separates plastic components from mixed waste, to make sorting more efficient at different stages of the waste value chain. Following closely behind, UK-based data and analytics startup Topolytics came in third. Its proprietary analytics engine, WasteMap, collects and maps live data on commercial, industrial and post-consumer waste from multiple sources, to help corporates make better decisions around generated waste.
A Collective Effort Towards a Zero-Waste Singapore
“WASTE 20/20 supports Singapore’s push in building a vibrant ecosystem to groom innovative startups. Particularly in the area of waste management, we see potential for more startups to introduce new and sustainable solutions that will enrich and uplift the capabilities of the sector, and create good jobs. Our partnership with StartupX will take us one step closer towards the goal of a zero-waste Singapore,” said Mr Yeoh Choon Jin, Director of Enterprise Singapore.
Matteo Chiampo, Director of The Incubation Network, who was also engaged as a judge at WASTE 20/20, added, “We recognise that ventures can only impact the region’s waste problem in a meaningful way if they are built to consider the complexities that exist across the entire waste supply chain. WASTE 20/20 is very much aligned on this same approach — from sourcing and identifying, to developing innovations — which is why we are excited to lend our support as programme partners.”
This initiative is also supported by heavyweights in the waste management industry including 800 Super, Tiong Lam, ALBA-W&H and Sembcorp, who participated in the judging process and are looking to adopt relevant solutions through the competition.
Accelerating innovation in supply chain resilience, urban food systems, alternative proteins and affordable nutrition, a powerhouse of dynamic early stage start-ups from the Asia-Pacific region will pitch their ground-breaking technologies at this year’s virtual Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit on November 18-20.
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