News
August 13, 2021
Innovators being sought for project using ash and plastic waste as raw materials

THE GOVERNMENT of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is seeking to have people within academia and the private enterprise explore the potential of using plastics and volcanic ash as raw materials in the production of useful products.

The incentivized challenge is open to submissions from Vincentians, other OECS Nationals, the wider Caribbean and further field. It is hoped that such a wide spread would yield a range of ideas and concepts.

The project – Recycling Innovation Challenge: Recycling at an Island Level, was launched on August 11 through the Agency for Public Information (API), and remains open for one month.

Plastic waste constitutes a significant percentage of pollutants posing a threat to the region’s marine space. For St Vincent and the Grenadines, which is still grappling with the extensive socio-economic impacts of the 2021 eruptions of La Soufriere Volcano, volcanic ash is another major pollutant to air quality and ecosystem health. Therefore, the challenge seeks to support research that addresses the problems caused as a result of plastic waste and whose solutions are suitable to the context of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such that they can make an important contribution in reducing plastic waste, at a local, national and regional level.

The winning proposal will receive a grant of US$20,000, funded under the OECS “Building Resilience in the Eastern Caribbean through Reduction of Marine Litter and Pollution” Project (ReMLit). ReMLit is a three-year project being implemented by the OECS with funding from the Government of Norway.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of six OECS Member states funded under ReMLit to implement country level projects which directly contribute to the aim of reducing marine litter. SVG’s project, titled “Partnering to Combat Land-Based Sources of Pollution and Improve
Ocean Ecosystem Health in St. Vincent and the Grenadines” – is a two-year (2021 to 2022) project to reduce land-based sources of marine pollution by increasing local recycling of plastic waste through public-private partnership. A key strategy of the project is to facilitate action by the public, private sector and civil society stakeholders.

The winner’s grant of US$20,000 will fund the development of the selected proposal for demonstration purposes. Adjudicators of the challenge will be scrutinising submissions for possible creative use(s), novel ideas and solutions, potential to reduce social impacts of plastic, and if possible volcanic ash for diversification of agricultural input products with export potential, possible contribution to economic growth, creation of livelihoods, and the involvement of communities. Proposals can also seek to build on existing relevant research to bridge any knowledge gaps and provide workable solutions.

In announcing the challenge, the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Sustainable Development and Culture, noted the success of waste plastic with ash to produce building bricks in the Philippines, after the eruption of Taal volcano in that country on January 12, 2020.

The deadline for submission of proposals for the Recycling Innovation Challenge: Recycling at an Island Level, is September 10, 2021 at 4:00pm. The winner will be announced at the end of September. The Solid Waste Management Agency has set a four-month timeline for the development of the demonstration by the winning applicant, with January 31, 2022 carded for its unveiling.