UNDP and National Incubation Center Lahore host Innovators in Plastic Waste Recycling at SolutionsFest 2.0

Lahore: The National Incubation Center Lahore (NICL) at LUMS collaborated with the Innovation-Acceleration Lab at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan to host SolutionsFest 2.0: Reimagining our Relationship with Plastics in Pakistan. This three-day event, which aimed to discuss, strategize and create solutions for plastic pollution, was held from November 29 to December 1 at NICL.

SolutionsFest2.0 brought together people at the heart of the design process and curated a community-led problem-solving engagement opportunity to address the issue of plastic waste management in Pakistan. During the event, plastic problem solvers explored materials, tested connectivity, worked with tools and mechanics, created structures, and improved on iterations by focusing on and responding to the problem of plastic waste generation and on creating a system for a circular economy.

Solutions included a mobile app to facilitate door-to-door collection of recyclable plastics; prototypes of interlocking plastic bricks to enable low-cost housing for slums; upcycled, aesthetic furniture; another solution to turn non-recyclable plastics from waste to energy; and eco-friendly, low-cost, specialised shoes made of recycled material for children born with clubfoot. All prototypes were created at NICL’s state-of-the art, Makers Lab, which includes metal, CNC, PCB, wood, and 3D printing facilities for speedy, high quality hardware solutions.

Mr. Ehsan Gul, Head of Experimentation at UNDP Pakistan Innovation-Acceleration-Lab, stated, “We need to rapidly prototype and experiment to find solutions for fixing the rapidly increasing plastic waste management problem in Pakistan. Soutionsfest 2.0 provided an opportunity to bring sustainability enthusiasts, local recyclers, private sector partners, etc. together to catalyse ideation and invention. The National Incubation Center Lahore was a natural choice for us as a key partner, because of their mission to enable Pakistani problem-solvers and their all-inclusive space, which offers critical prototyping facilities and fosters an environment of innovation and problem solving.”

In his keynote address, Mr. Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan, appreciated the efforts of the participants and organisers, “We saw a myriad of good ideas today, quite a few ideas were both viable and scalable. In terms of plastic use, radical change is important, but so are small steps in the right direction; for sectors like healthcare plastic usage may be imperative, but for most other sectors it boils down to mere convenience and that is where we need to intervene and make a change.” He emphasised the importance of taking a collaborative approach, and involving stakeholders across the value chain, from consumers to multinational corporations to the government to create synergies and tangible impact.

The National Incubation Center Lahore is a springboard for venture incubation and corporate innovation through an intersection of applied research, industry and talent, to solve Pakistan’s biggest problems.

SolutionsFest 2.0 is part of a larger portfolio of the Innovation-Acceleration Lab, UNDP Pakistan. The Lab is a dedicated learning space to reimagine development solutions. The Lab, along with the country office, programmes and partners, explores and experiments new approaches, from ethnography to design, to find inclusive and human-centred approaches for meaningful change. In the last two years, the Innovation-Acceleration Lab has been exploring this issue with the learning question: how we can reimagine relationship with plastics in Pakistan.

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