EU-China Circular Design challenge

Tackle Ocean Plastic Pollution - rethink how we design products?

If no significant changes are made, by 2050, plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish, predicts a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

In the first half of 2018 China’s three biggest online food delivery platforms – Meituan, Ele Me and Baidu Takeout – made 33.9 million deliveries on average every day. It is estimated that online takeaway food orders will rocket from 100 billion yuan a year in 2016 to 700 billion yuan in 2020 (US$14.6 billion to US$70 billion) – a 700% increase.
This comes with an immense amount of single-use plastics in the form of plastic bags, containers, straws, cutlery. A typical order will include two or three plastic boxes, carried in one or two plastic bags; with an assortment of disposable chopsticks, plastic spoons and plastic soup containers; and possibly drink cartons or cans. The boxes used in food deliveries are usually made of plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene, or paper and aluminium foil. The plastic containers aren’t biodegradable, yet in Beijing they are used in 70% of deliveries.
China leads the world in e-commerce - More than 40% of the world's e-commerce transactions currently take place in China . However, with the e-commerce boom, so is the packaging waste. 31.3 billion parcels were shipped across the country in 2015, with 7.5 billion plastic bags, 10 billion cardboard boxes and 17 billion metres of wrapping tape were used– a year-on-year increase of more than 50%, according to data from China’s State Post Bureau.

At a system level, how can food delivery companies reconcile growing demand for their services with increasing pressure from consumers and regulators alike to reduce the dependence on single-use plastics?

Facing the severe plastic pollution in China, The design challenge seeks to inspire and engage future generations of designers and business leaders, and will call upon the creative powers from younger generation. As a starting point to engage and to initiate more in-depth relationships with leading design schools, the Challenge brings to life the vision of circular design, the practical tools and systemic thinking. Collaborating with students and business partners, the aim is to inspire and engage designers with this vision of a circular economy.


Phase 1. Online Courses and Pre-Registration(13th Nov to 31st Dec 2019)

Six free online courses will be released every Wednesday from 13th November to 18th December. *Applicants keen on participating in the Circular Design Challenge can join the Circular Economy WeChat group (ID: impacthubber Note:CircularEconomy) and pre-register on the sign in link.

What is the circular economy?

Learn about the three principles that are the foundation of the circular economy concept and some of the benefits of shifting away from the current, linear, economy.

The circular economy in detail

Dive into the details of the concept of the circular economy to understand its history, its nuances and the benefits it offers to business, society, and the environment.

Circular Design

Examine the role of design in creating a circular economy, the four stage circular design process and six strategies for designing circular products and services.

AI and circular economy

Explore how AI can be used as a tool to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in the areas of design, business models, and infrastructure.

New Plastic Economy

Plastic has become the workhorse material of the economy and yet it is one of the most wasteful examples of our existing linear take-make-dispose economy. This session explores how the principles of circular economy can be applied to the plastics industry to resolve issues in the current system.

What can I do within my business?

Learn how to embed the principles of the circular economy within your organization through communicating and collaborating with colleagues and initiating new projects?

Phase 2. Develop & Ideate : Hackathon(14th Feb to 16th Feb, 2020,Shanghai)

60 selected participants will join in a 2-day Hackathon and start to choose your own path (food delivery//e-commerce//single-use food and beverage packaging) , and define your path as a circular economy practitioner. By utilising evolving knowledge, participants will be able to ideate and shape their own circular solutions.

Phase 3. Prototype & Implement : Pitching Day(29th March, 2020,Shanghai)

Participants selected from the Hackathon would perfect their solution with the support of our business mentors. Outstanding winners would be awarded and immersive workshop in London.

Final winners will be invited to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation 10th Annual Summit in June 2020. The trip will be fully sponsored by Ellen MacArther Foundation.









The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Since its creation the charity has emerged as a global thought leader, establishing the circular economy on the agenda of decision makers across business, government, and academia. With the support of its Core Philanthropic Partners SUN, MAVA, People’s Postcode Lottery, and The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation and Knowledge Partners Arup, Dragon Rouge Ltd, IDEO, and SYSTEMIQ the Foundation’s work focuses on seven interlinking areas: Learning; Business; Institutions, Governments and Cities; Insight and Analysis; Systemic Initiatives; Circular Design; Communications

The Foundation works on a strategic level with influential businesses across key sectors of the economy to demonstrate circular innovation at scale.


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