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EarthWays Innovation Challenge: Rethinking Recycling

April 6, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Communities all over the United States have been forced to examine a key question this past year – how can contamination in the recycling stream be reduced? Contamination is any item found in a recycling bin that cannot be recycled. This could be trash, food, plastic bags, or items that can be recycled, but not in single-stream. Waste Management estimates that the contamination rate is currently about 25%, meaning that every on 1 in 4 items in curbside recycling cannot be recycled. Up until recently, China has accepted much of the world’s recycling, but that changed when they issued a rule saying they would only accept .5% contamination. That means 199 out of every 200 items in a bin has to be recyclable. That’s easier said than done, which is where the innovators of tomorrow come in. Join EarthWays Center second annual Innovation Challenge for students – an opportunity to take learning about waste to real-world action.

Students from around the St. Louis community will join EarthWays Center in a one-day design challenge/hackathon where innovation, creativity, and imagination are the key to solving real-world environmental problems. Through this challenge, students will build their understanding of recycling and reducing waste, environmental connections, and problem-solving and technology skills as they work to design and develop solutions. Students can either design a physical solution or a technological one using the software Balsamiq. GlobalHack is generously donating computers that student can use the day of the competition.

Students will have one morning to come up with a unique solution to our recycling contamination problem, devise a prototype and a pitch, and present their solution to a panel of expert judges from the waste disposal, sustainability, and startup industries. There will be prizes for winners, as well as the opportunity to implement your solution in your community!

Students can register as teams of 3 to 4 – just register all the students together in the same order. Students that register as individuals will be placed in teams based on age.

Registration & More Info


Innovation Conference Center @T-REX (5th Floor)
911 Washington Ave.
St Louis, MO 63101


EarthWays Center of Missouri Botanical Gardens