One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: upcycling is one of the green innovation trends of 2022

What you toss in the trash can without a second thought could be worth so much more. Just take a look at the finalists in ClimateLaunchpad, the global green business competition.

Within the competition, all kinds of ideas come forward, such as extracting energy from the sea, using deep tech to monitor agricultural factors, or producing environmentally friendly batteries. Not limited to the fact that we have a specific theme related to circular economy, this year we see that entrepreneurs using this systems solution framework is a trend that cuts across all 8 of our themes. 

We have seen a striking number of entries and National Winners with innovations related to circular economies, recycling, and upcycling. And these include very inventive ideas. It is clear that circular economy – breaking the “take-make-dispose” cycle is one of the topics that entrepreneurs are determined to tackle.

Building with waste
When you look at the ideas that the Global Finalists will be pitching, you could ask yourself why buildings are still being built with bricks, concrete, or steel made from virgin resources. For example, amongst the cohort there are innovations that make concrete from waste from coal-fired power stations and blast furnaces; or ones that turn textiles into bricks, or create building materials from Styrofoam. In this way they not only recycle residual products, they also prevent a lot of air and land pollution.

Creating circular economies can also include a social aspect – activating residents, refugees, or the general public can also be part of the business model. True to the insights given by our African Regional Host organisation youthinkgreen in our article “Regional visions on the global climate challenge”, start-ups from this region often combine climate and social impact in their business model. 

Clothing, children’s rooms, and coffee oil. All from our organic waste
We know that we can compost our organic waste. But did you know that you could also use it to make new products? This year we see, among other things, that clothing is made from potato scraps and children’s furniture from food waste from catering businesses. 

Soon you might be showering with soap made from biowaste and mushrooms. After which you apply a facial cream that comes from coffee grounds. There is no more petroleum or palm oil involved in these products.

Update: who did win? 

WAGA‘s Tanzanian Gibson stunned the jury with his idea of reusing laptop batteries to provide an entire household with sustainable energy sources. Another overwhelming idea to give discarded parts a longer life with a new purpose. WAGA took second place in the 2022 competition.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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