How can waste be turned into a resource or even be avoided at all? How can we engage people to think about waste in a completely different way? Companies that are dealing with these questions make a big contribution to a more sustainable lifestyle.
To give these new and innovative business models more visibility is the mission of a new and smart initiative: A little over a year ago, Green Alley Investment GmbH set out to identify and support the most innovative startups and entrepreneurs in the realm of waste, recycling and resource conservation. In order to attract startups and entrepreneurs from across Europe, Green Alley has set up the Green Alley Award, an annual prize for startups in the circular economy. This year the Green Alley Award opens to the UK and is supported by the London-based European Recycling Platform (ERP) UK and Bethnal Green Ventures, a UK based accelerator for companies using technology for social or environmental good. Until 15th of September, green startups with a business idea related to turning waste into a resource are invited to apply online at www.green-alley-award.com.
At the award ceremony in Berlin, all finalists will have the opportunity to meet expert practitioners, potential business partners and future customers in the European recycling and waste management industries. In addition to a lot of networking opportunities, the winner receives a package of prize money and other benefits worth more than £14,000, including a rent-free office in a co-working space in Berlin.
“More and more people are oriented towards environmental sustainability” says Miriam Kehl, Associate Director at Green Alley. “We asked ourselves: ‘why shouldn’t we support this positive development?’” Kehl created Green Alley in January 2014, together with Jan Patrick Schulz, CEO of the environmental and waste management service provider Landbell.
Setting up such an initiative is incredibly important. Environmental challenges like plastic in the oceans or increasing amounts of electronic waste need to be addressed. In this regard, the circular economy offers a lot of opportunities for innovation, helping waste to become a valued resource. However, the recycling sector is not exactly known as a sexy topic for young startups, and if someone happens to have a good idea, environmental regulations often make things even more difficult. That’s why entrepreneurs with a business model in recycling need strong partners like Green Alley who offer know-how and expertise.
Connecting Green Ideas from Berlin to London
Still, Green Alley sees a lot of potential in Europe’s leading startup city London and has teamed up with two strong partners in the city. “The Green Alley Award will be a great opportunity for UK green economy startups not only to benefit from know-how in the German market but also to boost their business across Europe”, says Scott Butler, Regional Director UK and Ireland at ERP. Glen Mehn, Partner at Bethnal Green Ventures, adds “it's critically important that we find new ways to make better use of existing resources, with a particular focus on the post-consumer stream. If we want to tackle our environmental problems we have to find innovative products and services that fundamentally change the nature of recycling, generate less waste and that make a better planet. That’s why we support the Green Alley Award 2015.”
The topic has even been recognised by the political agenda: the EU has called for ambitious recycling targets, aiming to recycle 70 percent of its household waste within the next five years. Still, there is a lot to do. According to official statistics, Europe produces 2.5 billion tons of waste annually.
In this context Green Alley believes that linking London’s well established successful entrepreneurial ecosystem with Berlin’s rapidly growing young startup scene creates high potential for significant innovation in the European recycling industry. The goal of this year’s Green Alley Award is to create synergies between locations in Germany and the UK, exchange experiences, to give startups a platform and to jointly create a European green economy network. The new European focus of the Award fits the goals, because the sustainable management of waste and the conservation of resources are global challenges that know no borders. Whether just ideas or an established startup: anyone who has developed a product, service or technology to promote the recycling economy, improve the conservation of resources or to raise awareness of the subject of recycling, should apply to this unique startup prize.
To learn more about the Green Alley Award 2015, please visit www.green-alley-award.com.