Berlin Calling: Greencycle Hackathon
What do you get when you take 30 students passionate about sustainability, the hottest weekend of the entire Berlin summer, and the world’s second largest retailer in the room…?
Welcome to the Greencycle Hackathon!
This week I had the pleasure of co-designing and co-facilitating the Greencycle Hackathon with Impact Hub Berlin and Climate KIC. A hackathon typically refers to a multi-day event where you go through a rapid development cycle, commonly used for tech or digital solutions. This time, we partnered with Greencycle, of the Schwarz Group (Lidl & Kaufland), to come up with innovation solutions for waste packaging and recycling. Students came from all across Germany, with a diverse range of backgrounds from product design, to business management, to chemical engineers – but all passionate about challenging the status quo of packaging.
Over three days, we used design thinking & lean startup principles to ideate solutions, form teams, talk to experts / customers / Lidl employees for market validation, build prototypes, iterate and refine those prototypes, come up with business models and turn these ideas into startups. And of course – lots of cool drinks, popsicles, and laughter to get through the intense summer heat!
Prototyping packaging solutions to reduce waste
Final ideas from the Greencycle Hackathon:
- Eat Your Package, a packaging material for dry products such as rice or pasta which is edible and dissolves in hot water during cooking.
- Palletetris, a revolutionary alternative to stretch foil which is commonly used to stabilise products on palettes.
- Pfand* for Everything, a new recyclable PET bag (“Pfandy Pack”) which expands the pfand system to dry goods.
- Greenycorn, a bulk buying and refilling station with a premium user experience.
- Plastic Diet, a bulk refilling and reuse packaging solution for drugstore products, such as soaps or cleaning products.
- Points for Plastic, an app which rewards Lidl customers for bringing back non-Pfand products back to supermarkets.
Winners will go on to Greencycle’s headquarters in Neckarsulm to meet with Greencycle’s CEO and key product engineers, operation leads, or developers to advance their product idea. These social enterprises may go on to be topics of a senior thesis, further incubated within Greencycle, or go on to be prototyped! Our hope is that one day we will see all of these plastic innovations available at Lidl near you.
*In 2002, Germany passed a container deposit legislation known as Einwegpfand (single-use deposit) or Pfand for short. There is a standard deposit of 0.25€ for all single-use containers (cans, single-use glass and plastic bottles) and most supermarkets in Germany have a reverse vending machine to collect recycling. How great is that?
Greencycle is the waste and recycling arm of the Schwarz Group (Lidl & Kaufland), the second largest retailer in the world behind Walmart. Greencycle’s goal is zero waste, which they work towards through optimising separating of waste materials, economise logistic routes, invest in alternative energy management and create new products from waste.
Learn more here: https://www.greencycle.de
Climate-KIC is Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership focused on climate innovation to mitigate and adapt to climate change. They bring together groups of students, businesses, entrepreneurs and public bodies to the table.
Learn more here: http://www.climate-kic.org/