Winners of the 2020 ASEAN-wide Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) announced

Ha Noi, 26 January 2021 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), the Viet Nam Administration of Sea and Islands (VASI), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have announced the four winners of the ASEAN-wide Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) to combat plastic waste in the coastal cities of Ha Long Bay (Viet Nam) and Koh Samui (Thailand) in 2020.

EPPIC was launched in June 2020 in Ha Long Bay on World Ocean Day. 159 teams coming from six ASEAN countries (Viet Nam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia) applied to the challenge with a broad range of solutions to tackle plastic pollution including both upstream and downstream innovations. In September, 14 teams were selected as the EPPIC finalists and undertook a a 3-month incubation programme combining technical training about the circular economy, waste management, and business development skills with field trips to Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui. These 14 teams will contribute to accelerating the transition to a circular economy of plastic in the ASEAN region with solutions systematically addressing plastic pollution, such as alternative materials, recycling technologies, models that foster re-use, community-based clean-ups, education campaigns, mobile apps, and the like.

VIFEP mGreen Green Island Foundation of Thailand OceanKita BBN Galaxy Biotech
Refill Day TerrCyle Thai Foundation CIRAC GreenPoints AYA
P+usTreat EcoTech mGreen

14 EPPIC finalists presenting their solutions to tackle plastic pollution

After a highly competitive pitching competition, the four EPPIC winners were announced. They were Galaxy Biotech, Green Joy, CIRAC and Refill Day. They have each been awarded a USD$18,000 grant to apply the solutions in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui, and will be enrolled in a 9-month impact acceleration programme delivered by UNDP Impact Aim, with a number of opportunities to connect with impact investing firms and other key development players in the ASEAN region.


  • Galaxy Biotech with breathable biobag, a starch-based bag made from industrial cassava (tapioca) starch
  • Green Joy with biodegradable straws made from the natural grass Lepironia
  • Refill Day with a service to refill products of trusted brand and deliver them to customer’s homes
  • CIRAC with a system to convert aluminum laminated thermoplastic in snack and food packaging into valuable products and materials, e.g. aluminum, diesel and activated carbon

In the coming months, UNDP and VASI will continue to work with the local authorities in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui for the implementation of the innovations selected and incubated by the EPPIC project. The aim is to support the uptake of these innovations into the project sites and accelerate the scale-up and replication of these solutions in Viet Nam, Thailand, and ASEAN member states to effectively contribute to reducing plastic pollution.

A panel of seven prestigious judges selected the 4 winners of the EPPIC 2020: Kari Synnøve Johansen (Advisor, Norad), Leela Dilkes-Hoffman (Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation), Regula Schegg (Managing Director Asia – Circulate Capital Ocean Fund), Giulio Quaggiotto (Head of UNDP’s Regional Innovation Center for Asia Pacific), Supinya Srithongkul (Advisor to the Mayor of Koh Samui), Nguyen Le Tuan (Director General, VISI), and Hoang Viet Dung (Director, Sub-Department for Seas and Islands in Quang Ninh).

Mr. Ta Dinh Thi. Director General, Viet Nam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) said, “The results of the competition show the diffusion of the spirit of environmental protection and the responsibility of the community to solve the current global problem, plastic waste – a requirement throughout the sustainable development process.”

“Today, the EPPIC winners have pitched outstanding, innovative ideas to tackle plastic pollution and we are keen to working with them and our partners from the Governments of Viet Nam and Thailand to implement the solutions in Ha Long Bay and Koh Samui. Today, we are also delighted to extend the EPPIC Challenge to Indonesia and the Philippines and welcome all innovators from ASEAN to apply. We believe there is a significant  opportunity for innovators from ASEAN countries to play a leading role in the fight against plastic pollution,” said Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam.

“Norad is proud to support UNDP Viet Nam’s Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC), as a part of Norway’s development program to combat marine litter. We need to come together, collaborate, and innovate to stop plastic pollution from reaching our oceans. We are impressed with these entrepreneurs commitment to create healthier environments and good jobs in a circular economy by reducing plastic pollution” said Stig Ingemar Traavik, Director for the Department for Climate, Energy and Environment of Norad.

The EPPIC Final Pitching Competition and Award Ceremony were live-streamed at the following links:

During the event, the two locations of the Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) 2021 were revealed to the audience. Interested innovators are now welcome to apply and contribute to beating plastic pollution in Mandalika Special Economic Zone, Lombok Island (Indonesia) and Samal Island (the Philippines).

For more regular updates on the EPPIC Competition and our work against plastic pollution, like and follow our Facebook page at Ocean or Plastic?

About EPPIC:

The Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) is a two and half-year project funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). The first component of the EPPIC will focus on tackling local pollution challenges in the ASEAN region by selecting, supporting, incubating, and scaling up the best and most innovative solutions. The second component will contribute to building Viet Nam’s capacity to combat this growing challenge, as well as strengthening networks and knowledge exchange between ASEAN countries.


About the 2020 EPPIC challenge sites

Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Quang Ninh province, is one of Viet Nam’s most popular travel destinations, receiving 14 million visitors in 2019. The province generates 1,397 tons of domestic solid waste daily, of which approximately 12-18% is plastic. Furthermore, around 34 tons of waste is generated from tourism alone on a daily basis, some of which is simply thrown into the sea by travellers. Ha Long Bay is also home to a large fish-farming industry with 20,600 fish-ponds and 9,600 fish cages, meaning that equipment such as buoys and fishing nets are among the most common plastic items that are being lost or discarded into the environment.

Koh Samui (Samui Island) is the largest island in an archipelago located off the north-eastern coast of Surat Thani Province in Thailand. This very famous tourist destination welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors in 2017, but possesses limited waste management systems to manage the approximately 10,800 tons of plastic waste that are generated there annually, much of it food packaging from the nearly 2,000 restaurants and convenience stores that cater to visitors.

#EPPIChallenge #BeatPlasticPollution

More news


The Viet Nam Administration of Seas and Islands of Vietnam (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),...


Congratulations to Greenjoy straw – Ống hút cỏ thiên nhiên and Túi Biết Thở – Biopackaging, two winning teams of the Ending Plastic...


03 months of application round! 03 months of incubation programme! And here comes the Final Pitching Competition! 17 finalists coming from all over ASEAN...