New recycling process idea for plastic wins top prize at UW environmental competition

ByPhyllis R. Edwards

Apr 2, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


The first, second, and third place teams hold their prizes after the UW’s annual Environmental Innovation Challenge. (Photo courtesy of University of Washington)

The University of Washington Foster School Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship this week hosted its annual Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC).

The finalists collectively received $45,000 in prizes for their solutions addressing environmental stewardship. More than 100 judges determined the winners of the competition, which included undergrad and graduate students from across the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

  • The winner of the $15,000 Alaska Airlines Grand Prize was Catalytic Carbon, an interdisciplinary UW student group that is creating a solution to turn waste into carbon nanotubes and reusable hydrogen gas. The solution aims to increase efficiency in recycling processes. Approximately 14.5 million tons of plastic ended up in landfills in 2018. The group also received a $5,000 Clean Energy Prize from the UW Clean Energy Institute for their work.
  • The winner of the $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation Second Place Prize was Just Right Bite, a team of Master of Science in Entrepreneurship UW students that is developing pet food products from insects.
  • The winner of the $5,000 Starbucks Third Place Prize was Arctic Biotech Oath, a team of University of Alaska-Anchorage students using microorganisms to sustainably extract rare materials.
  • The winner of the $5,000 UW EarthLab Community Impact Prize was GardenPro, a team of UW students focused on developing more affordable and accessible home gardening solutions.
  • The winner of the $2,500 Best Idea for Climate Impact Prize sponsored by Eric Carlson was Ultropia, a team of UW students developing a low carbon footprint all-in-one laundry machine.
  • The winner of the $1,000 Connie Bourassa-Shaw Spark Award was PlantSeal, a group of UW students who are developing plant-based, compostable food packaging to limit the industry’s current use of toxic PFA materials.


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