Last Wednesday, April 10th, there was a full house at MESH to discuss how to move from seeing plastic as waste and instead treat it as a valuable resource within circular business opportunities! Ultimately, the audience learned key insights into how through power coupling, innovation can be cultivated & solutions can be discovered.
State Secretary from the Minister of Foreign Affair, Jens Frølich Holte, kicked off the program by proposing that in order to save our oceans from this pressing problem we must have a “Global To Do List.” The first step, he said, is “to make the to-do list.” The second step: check off the list!
“Norway has a deep cultural connection with our oceans. By combining protection and production, we can ensure that we can restore our oceans health by one hundred percent. There are so many waste management opportunities in the face of the growing plastic problem. By recognizing these opportunities, we not only have the chance to clean up our seas but to facilitate sustainable business.” – Jens Frølich Holte on sustainable business opportunities
The second speaker was Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, Vice Mayor of Environment & Transportation. Emphasizing that we can only succeed if we “all work together,” she pointed out the hard truth that there is now more plastic than fish in our oceans. For her part, she is leading the way in phasing out single-use plastic within Norway by 2019. Berg reminded the crowd that while there is a global to-do list, there is also a local to-do list. “A new action plan on plastic pollution is the place to start!”, said Lan Marie Nguyen Berg on where we should begin bridging the gap between governments, corporates, and startups.
Afroz Shah, an Indian environmentalist who has been recognized with top honors by the U.N. for his efforts to combat plastic waste then delivered a riveting keynote. In his own words, Shah is “an ocean lover and feel that we owe a duty to our ocean to make it free of plastic.” Shah has motivated Mumbai residents and fisherfolk by knocking on doors and explaining the damage marine litter causes, running community operations to prevent litter from washing down the local creek and onto the beach. His movement has brought attention to decision-makers on an international level and his enthusiasm was contagious.
Closing out our program, three startups devoted to ocean clean up presented. Quantafuel, Clean Sea Solutions & Empower. Each of these startups took the time to pitch their solutions while engaging with comments from the audience.
Clean Sea Solutions has developed robots designed to clean up ocean waste, and are planning to launch a series of products such as solar powered waste containers and dock solutions.
Empower is building a global plastic waste ecosystem where you can receive rewards in return for depositing plastic waste. They also use technology to ensure transparency and traceability throughout the value chain.
Quantafuel turns plastic waste into high-quality fuel and chemicals that can be utilised by the current infrastructure. Their technology has several environmental advantages. It reduces plastic waste, local pollution and emission of greenhouse gases.
Following the program, our Director of Sustainability & Ocean Industries, Birgit Liodden, facilitated a roundtable session with participants from the audience. Here, industry knowledge along with innovative solutions were voiced by some of Oslo’s leading changemakers. There was no lack of potential in the green solutions presented.
This event may be one of our most successful for our Oslo European Green Capital Business program to date! Key takeaway: Power coupling is not only about bridging startups with corporates – it’s also about small & big cities or countries that can match solutions and needs.