Winning Team


Grain-4-Lab: Reducing reliance on single-use plastics in laboratories

Dublin City University



Special Prize


Microplastic-free Plastics: Minimising the release of micro- and nano-plastics from plastic products

Trinity College Dublin



Seed Phase Teams


Removing plastic from food and beverage packaging

Challenge PET materials in food and beverage packaging are contributing to the continued growth of plastic in our environment. A truly recyclable alternative is needed that maintains or improves the functional properties of PET whilst reducing economic and environmental costs. Addressing this challenge would minimise the environmental impact of plastic containers, address a critical issue in sustainability within the packaging industry and provide a strong commercial opportunity for exploitation in Ireland.   

Solution Development of a manufacturing process that allows light weighting glass to 1/3 of normal weight whilst maintaining or improving strength and so minimizing barriers such as cost and GHG emissions (note that transport costs are not material if the entire manufacturing cycle is considered), in order to provide a truly recyclable avenue to replace PET packaging. This project introduces innovative techniques to minimise the role of defects and so increase the effective strength and fracture toughness of the material so that thin glass parts can be formed that allow the strength of much thicker parts to be exceeded and so use as a replacement for fossil fuel-based polymer containers. 

UN SDG Alignment GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production 

Team Mick Morris (TCD), Aran Rafferty (TCD), John Rordan (private entrepreneur) 

Plastic Raiders

Removing polluting plastics from the coastal marine environment

Challenge Within the marine context, millions of tonnes of plastic enter our oceans annually as micro- to macroplastic litter. The economic cost to marine natural capital is estimated to range from $3300–$33,000 per ton of plastic per year. Larger plastics entering ocean waters have two fates - floating on the surface or sinking due to biofouling and/or ballasting. If not removed by clean-up operations, macroplastics (>5 mm) may harm many types of marine life through entanglement or ingestion. They also fragment and degrade into microplastics that can be ingested and incorporated in bodies and tissues of many organisms. Being able to detect larger floating plastics in coastal waters before they become entangled, ingested, exported and/or fragmented, may help to answer key questions about sources, pathways and trends. Furthermore, actions that highlight and reduce marine plastic pollution in the context of an increasingly stressed marine environment can be counted as investments toward the health and future resilience of our global marine ecosystem services.

Solution The project will combine remote sensing technologies and bottom-up citizen science to create sustainable, intergenerational change in polluting and environmental activism behaviours. Citizens will be engaged by the Social Champion in the civil society organisation Irish Surfing Association and by the Impact Champion in Clean Coasts, who will leverage existing connections with local communities in Ireland. The project will enable citizens to act on climate change and for sustainable development through better monitoring and observation of the environment and their environmental impacts, and acting upon them by removing plastics from coastal environments. The key societal impacts of the citizen science activities will be to raise awareness, engage and empower citizens and consumers with concrete tools to monitor their impacts on the environment.

UN SDG Alignment GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities 

Team Francesco Pilla (UCD), Jennifer Symonds (UCD), Tim Ferguson (Irish Surfing Association) 


Concept Phase Teams