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2018 Global Challenge

Global Challenge 2018/19

Help solve one of the biggest threats to our oceans of all time



Greenpeace challenge - prepared by Louise Edge, Greenpeace UK

Infographic 1   Infographic 2   Infographic 3  

Problem statement

Right now up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic - everything from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads - end up in our oceans each year. That’s a truck load of rubbish every minute.

Travelling on ocean currents, this plastic is now turning up in every corner of our planet - from uninhabited Pacific islands to the world’s deepest ocean trenches. It is even being found trapped in Arctic ice.

Our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup and the effects on ocean life are chilling. Big pieces of plastic are choking and entangling turtles and seabirds and tiny pieces are clogging the stomachs of creatures who mistake it for food, from tiny zooplankton to whales. Plastic is now entering every level of the ocean food chain and even ending up in the seafood on our plates.

Around 80% of this marine litter originates from land and much of that is throwaway (or single-use) plastic packaging. And if current trends continue, plastic use is predicted to double by 2020 and quadruple by 2050, meaning that unless we devise new ways to package our products this is a problem that is set to become much worse.

With just 9% of plastic currently being recycled globally - it's clear recycling alone cannot fix our ocean plastic problem fast enough. We need to reduce single-use plastic packaging at source to turn off the tap of plastic pollution flowing into the ocean.

Supermarkets and throwaway plastic

We are already seeing companies around the world take action to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic items like plastic straws, stirrers and bags.

However many of the food products and household goods on sale in our supermarkets and stores are still covered with throwaway single-use plastic. In fact UK supermarkets alone currently generate an estimated 800,000 tonnes of throwaway plastic packaging every year.

Greenpeace is challenging supermarkets to tackle their throwaway plastic problem by reducing throwaway plastic packaging use year on year, developing sustainable alternatives, and switching to reuse models wherever possible.


You are an advisor to a major UK supermarket which aims to:

  1. Reduce their overall use of packaging
  2. Eliminate single-use plastic packaging by 2025
  3. Introduce more reusable packaging formats.

Your challenge

Making use of new technologies and approaches and alternative delivery systems, how can you come up with ways to help them achieve their aims?

For this brief we are not interested in exploring alternative single-use packaging materials to plastic for packaging. We want to hear your ideas for reusable packaging designs or new approaches that enable supermarkets to dramatically reduce the need for packaging in the first place.

You can choose to focus in on redesigning packaging for one class of product that the supermarket sells - such as (for example) fruit and vegetables, household cleaning products or toiletries or to focus on a specific product.

Two relevant examples already on the market are:

  • Reducing packaging: Lush’s solid shampoo and shower gel bars
  • Reusable packaging: Splosh’s cleaning products where you buy a bottle of product, but when it runs out you get a tablet and add water to top it up.


By 'reusable' we mean packaging that can itself be reused multiple times. Recyclable or recycled materials are not defined as reusable.


Plastic bag floating in the sea   Pre-packaged oranges   Plastic bottle waste  

Our partners

For the Global Challenge 2018/19 we have partnered with two amazing charities, Greenpeace and GreenSeas Trust.

Find out more  >


Who is eligible to take part?

At least one of your team members needs to be an IET member.

For more information on becoming a member and finding the right membership for you visit our webpage.


Contact us

Email: globalchallenge@theiet.org