Skip to content

Food wrappers and beverage containers are ubiquitous, lightweight, and disposable, and many are nonrecyclable. Beverage container lids and caps become detached, and due to their size, are likely to become litter or escape from waste management systems, eventually ending up in marine environments. The Design Track of the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge, a key component of National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures’ partnership to reduce plastic waste, aims to identify pragmatic, investible solutions to improve food and beverage packaging and containers. 

Design Track Categories

The Design Track targets the top consumer plastic waste that pollutes our beaches and coastlines, and incentivizes teams to develop design solutions for food packaging and beverage containers. This track also includes a “wild card” category that allows teams to submit solutions for other single-use plastics that do not fall within the food packaging or beverage container categories. 
 
A panel of expert judges will identify up to 10 finalists in the Design Track, who will each win $5,000. Finalists will then compete for the grand prize of $100,000 and up to two second-place prizes of $45,000 each.

Food Packaging

The Food Packaging category asks teams to develop new food packaging solutions, including food wrappers and containers. Teams must develop solutions made from a single, easily recycled material without additives, colorants, or adhesives that hinder recycling and without exacerbating pollution through the creation of microplastics. Solutions must also have the same or greater functionality as the products they are designed to replace, and must be designed with current production methods in mind. Bonus points may be awarded for solutions that include technology or design elements to facilitate sorting and recycling, or that include post-consumer recycled material.

Beverage Containers

The Beverage Container category asks teams to develop improved beverage containers. Teams must develop solutions with lids or caps that stay attached to the container, and are made from a single, easily recycled material without additives, colorants, or adhesives that hinder recycling and without exacerbating pollution through the creation of microplastics. Solutions must also have the same or greater functionality as the products they are designed to replace, and must be designed with current production methods in mind. Bonus points may be awarded for solutions that include technology or design elements to facilitate sorting and recycling, or that include post-consumer recycled material.

Wild Card

The Wild Card category is an open design challenge, in which teams may develop an alternative to any common single-use plastic product that contributes to marine plastic waste that is not targeted in the Food Packaging or Beverage Container categories. Teams must develop solutions that are made from a single, easily recycled material without additives, colorants, or adhesives that hinder recycling and without exacerbating pollution through the creation of microplastics. Solutions must also have the same or greater functionality as the product they are designed to replace, and must be designed with current production methods in mind. Bonus points may be awarded for solutions that include technology or design elements to facilitate sorting and recycling, or that include post-consumer recycled material.

Key Dates

 February 11, 2019

Registration opens

June 11, 2019

Initial Submission Deadline

Week of July 8, 2019

Finalists Selected

Week of November 11, 2019

Finalists’ Submissions Due

Week of December 9, 2019

Finalists Pitch Their Solutions to a Panel of Expert Judges

Week of December 9, 2019

Winners Announced

Submit Your Solutions

Prepare and submit your Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge solution in our online portal.

Register Now

PHOTOGRAPH BY MOHAMED ABDULRAHEEM SHUTTERSTOCK (Top Image) ; Sirtravelalot/Shutterstock (Food Packaging) ; Randy Olson (Beverage Container) ; Hannah Reyes Morales (Wild Card)