Google launches circular economy accelerator for start-ups as Starbucks allocates £1.4m to refill innovations

Image: Hubbub

Google has today (4 October) opened a new accelerator called ‘Google for Startups: Circular Economy’ to applications from the US and the Asia-Pacific region.

The accelerator will provide startups and nonprofits with training, mentoring and technical support from Google’s engineers and other experts as they work to scale solutions that reduce waste.

Organisations working in the food, fashion, built environment and materials science sectors are being invited to apply to the accelerator before 14 November. They will need to be working on projects that reduce material use in the first instance, through innovative design or reuse solutions, or be developing recycling or compositing innovations.

Google said in a statement that it is “imperative we shift our management of materials towards a circular economy model” for environmental, economic and social reasons.

Bring it Back Fund

In related news, Starbucks UK has announced seven projects to receive a share of its £1.4 ‘Bring it Back’ fund, launched in a bid to support innovative reuse solutions for food and beverage packaging. The money has been raised through the coffee chain’s charge on single-use paper cups and environmental charity Hubbub has been assisting Starbucks UK with the fund allocation.

In the public and third sectors, funding will be provided to Keep Scotland Beautiful as it trials a large-scale reusable cup scheme in the Highlands. Charities RECOUP and PECT will also receive funding for research into perceptions around reusable packaging and practical barriers to adoption, with Peterborough as a base.

In the private sector, reuse-as-a-service startup junee will be supported to undertake trials with Mercato Metropolitano food market in South London and packaging cleaning facility network Again will test doorstep collection for takeaway packaging in central London.

Further North, in Bradford, returnable packaging system Green Street will be supported to expand to more cades and restaurants and to trial a digital rewards platform. And, finally, in Edinburgh, Reath Technology will receive funding for their next-generation reuse tracking software using RFID technology.

Hubbub’s co-founder and director Gavin Ellis said: “The winning projects offer a strong mix of innovative solutions, from brand new reuse system trials to behaviour change research and funding developments in technology. With this funding, we will be able to test and learn from real-world trials and hopefully demonstrate that reuse systems are safe and easy to use, and can benefit the food and drink industry, consumers and the environment.”

Starbucks UK’s general manager Alex Rayner added: “It is important for us as a company that we continue to drive industry-wide innovation, as we work to increase reusability and inspire greater reusables uptake in local communities across the UK.”

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