March 3, 2024

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Philippines’ Ateneo De Manila University bags awards for case study on zero waste and plastic-free initiatives

Ateneo De Manila University Main Building. Photo: Wikipedia

Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines won awards for an international environmental concern.

“Make the Case” is a new Asia-wide student competition that challenges students to identify where plastic reduction projects are working and to think more seriously about how scale can be achieved.

While start-up competitions are plentiful, “Make the Case” is unique as the only sustainability challenge wherein students are focused on existing solutions that hold the potential to be applied elsewhere.

Dr. Justin Robertson, Associate Professor at City University of Hong Kong, one of the co-organizers, along with CAPP and Ocean Recovery Alliance, notes that: “Students quickly grasp that innovation also means identifying what is working and ensuring that good ideas do not get lost. Through research, foresight and planning, university students from a range of different disciplines proved capable of uncovering high-impact projects and setting out a vision of how they could be replicated in other parts of the region.”

Made possible by generous sponsorship from the Pictet Group Foundation and the support of a collaborating partner, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Hong Kong, the competition culminated in an awards ceremony with the winning student teams, both coming from Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.

Teams representing 22 universities in 10 countries participated by writing a detailed case study on an initiative that significantly reduces plastic waste where it operates, and could be scaled to another location.

The two themes were: i) find a proven project in a city, town or village that does an effective job in reducing the amount of plastic waste that enters the nearby waterway; or ii) pick an existing, proven project or program that reduces or eliminates plastic pollution which can be cost-effectively replicated and scaled.

Teams competed for prize money of US$16,500 /HK$128,700.

The two winning teams are:

The overall winner (including the prize for top Theme Two entry) was Team Dreamers and Doers from Ateneo de Manila University.

They showcased the Aling Tindera Network, a waste-to-cash program that involves local networks of women micro-entrepreneurs, most of whom own sari-sari stores (small, home-based convenience stores found in many Filipino neighborhoods.

In their presentation, they suggested Thailand as the country that could best benefit from a similar program.

The Theme One winner was Team Help Help Hooray, also from Ateneo de Manila University.

Their case study profiled a zero waste initiative on Apo Island in the Philippines and offered a framework to extend the Apo Island model to other coastal islands in the Philippines and the broader Asian region.

“As a long-term resident of Hong Kong and having carried out extensive programmes within East Asia”, said Doug Woodring, the Founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance and recognized plastic waste thought leader, “it was exciting to see the attention to detail, the depth of their answers, passion shown by the student teams, and how much they understood the situations and opportunities. Not only was this apparent in their case studies and presentations, but also in their essays on how the Plastic Atlas Asia could be expanded in future editions.”

The first two “Make the Case” competitions took place in India ( in early 2021, and were organized by CAPP, the Goa Institute of Management (one of the leading business institutions in India), and the Indian Plastics Institute (a prestigious member-driven organization of plastic industry professionals).

In September 2022, “Make the Case” was recognized by The United Nations Office of South South Cooperation (UNOSSC) as one of its Good Practice Solutions.

It was featured on the portal of South-South Galaxy, which is part of UNOSSC, as well as in the UN’s Good Practices in South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Development, Vol. 4 report (page 204). “Make the Case India” returns for its third offering soon.

“Make the Case-East Asia” will become an annual competition and run again in 2023. Planning to conduct advanced discussions to launch Make the Case in other regions of the world.

About CAPP

Created in 2020 as part of Ocean Recovery Alliance, the Commitments Accelerator for Plastic Pollution is focused on helping to support, facilitate, and incubate initiatives that reduce or prevent plastic pollution from entering our oceans.

With founding members in the U.S., Europe, and Hong Kong, CAPP maintains a global focus at a local level by building a network of innovators and putting their ideas into action with results that can be replicated in communities around the world.