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LAUNCH Program Challenges People to Redefine Waste
July 16, 2012

July 13, 2012

Nine companies hailing from India, Japan, Kenya, the United Kingdom and the United States will be sharing their ideas on waste management and related issues as part of a three-day forum associated with the LAUNCH: Beyond Waste challenge.LAUNCH is a program that aims to identify and accelerate solutions to the world’s most urgent sustainability challenges. The current program cycle is focused on waste, and the participants were chosen for their groundbreaking technologies and programs that address a broad range of waste issues, including waste-to-energy, agricultural waste and conservation, medical waste, sustainable chemicals and materials, and improved sanitation. Organizers include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), NASA, the Department of State, NIKE Inc., the Office of Naval Research, Coca-Cola, design company IDEO, Recyclebank and Architecture for Humanity.

“Waste is one of the largest hidden challenges facing many developing countries — one that is rarely discussed but that is having an outsized impact on people’s daily lives,” said Alex Dehgan, science and technology adviser to the USAID administrator. “Innovative solutions, businesses, and programs that fundamentally reimagine and transform waste into opportunity are desperately needed. USAID is excited to continue to play a central role in LAUNCH so that we can support the entrepreneurial efforts best positioned to transform global approaches to waste.”

According to a USAID press release, the LAUNCH program identifies innovations poised to create transformational change in critical sustainability issues, connects LAUNCH innovators to thought leaders and advisers and then provides resources and guidance to accelerate the implementation of the technologies, businesses and programs. The LAUNCH: Beyond Waste Forum, which brings together LAUNCH innovators and LAUNCH council members, will take place at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, July 20–22.

During the three-day forum, LAUNCH innovators will discuss their most pressing business and program issues with LAUNCH council members, who represent the business, waste management, investment, international development, policy, engineering, science, communications and sustainability sectors. The sessions are designed to identify key challenges and opportunities for the entrepreneurs’ innovations in an effort to more rapidly accelerate their solutions toward even greater real world impact, USAID said.

The companies and individuals participating in the LAUNCH: Beyond Waste challenge are:

• Nitin Gupta of Attero Recycling (India), India’s leading provider of “end-to-end” electronic and electrical goods e-waste management services.

• Anshu Goonj of Goonj (India), a grass-roots Indian nongovernmental organization focused on transforming and revaluing clothing and textile waste by working on these issues directly at the community level.

• Lisa Dyson of Kiverdi (United States), provider of a bioprocess that recycles waste carbon into sustainable oils and chemicals for a wide variety of applications such as biomaterials, detergents and fuel additives.

• Jeff Toolan of Pylantis (United States/Japan), an advanced biomaterials manufacturing company whose nontoxic, biomass-based materials replace traditional plastics in a variety of applications.

• Jason Aramburu of re:char (United States/Kenya): a leading developer and provider of biochar, a carbon-negative charcoal that can be used as a charcoal substitute and as a powerful soil amendment that boosts crop yields.

• Brooke Farrell of Recyclematch (United States), an online global marketplace for recyclables and waste byproducts for the $500+ billion market in materials trading.

• Joseph Atnafu of Sanergy (United States/Kenya), a provider of sanitation infrastructure for slums in Nairobi, Kenya, and of fertilizer and electricity from its byproducts.

• Sandra Sassow of SeAB (United Kingdom), a renewable energy and waste-to-energy company that provides compact, easy to install anaerobic digesters — a scalable solution for addressing food waste and other bio wastes directly at the site.

• Kiah Williams of SIRUM (United States), provider of a technology platform that manages donations of surplus medicines, with the ultimate goal of “zero medical waste.”

To learn more about LAUNCH, visit www.launch.org.