Our Wellington

News | 12 April 2021

Winning ideas will help combat climate change

Supporting events to become more sustainable, repurposing hotel linen to those in need, and new tech that will help direct people to correct disposal methods for various materials, are some of the innovating ideas to come out of 2021’s successful Climathon challenge.

Six people, who developed the Greener Events Metric which was the grand prize winning idea at the Wellington 2021 Climathon challenge, standing in a row presenting their certificate.
The grand prize winners of Wellington's 2021 Climathon challenge, who came up with GEM, the Greener Events Metric.

Participants had just 24 hours to come up with a solution to support climate change. They formed teams, developed an idea with support from mentors, and then pitched it to a panel of judges who awarded prizes, specifically chosen to help the teams take their concepts to the next level. 

The Climathon is supported by Wellington City Council and will help support the city’s goal to reduce emissions to zero by 2050. A global initiative that Wellington has taken part in for the last five years, the challenge took place earlier this month at Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington.

This year’s event focused on three climate challenges – waste, transport and food systems – chosen for their impact and urgency for Wellington.

There were five winning ideas. These were:

  • GRAND PRIZE WINNER – GEM (Greener Events Metric)

    GEM is a new way to measure and improve event sustainability. GEM's metric lets the public know which events are truly sustainable and their platform makes it easy for event managers to submit waste management plans to Council.

  • WASTE PRIZE WINNER – Repurposed For Good

    Repurposed For Good is an initiative in which hotel linen is diverted from landfill, with quality products repurposed by distribution to charities for use by low income households.

  • WASTE-TECH PRIZE WINNER – Waste Wise

    Waste Wise is a smart disposal technology platform that educates and empowers people to make the right decision when disposing of material. The application uses up-to-date regional waste-stream information and can be used by people who are unsure about how to dispose of certain materials correctly.

  • FOOD SYSTEMS PRIZE WINNER – Ingrain

    Ingrain's vision is to transform the food system by changing from annual to perennial crops, which bring back more carbon and nutrients to soil, reduce nitrogen fertiliser emissions, use less water, and grow crops that are fit for the future climate. The team will begin by importing and selling a perennial product variety from an international market, while advocating for and investigating local varieties to begin planting and harvesting.

  • YOUNG INNOVATOR PRIZE WINNER – Closet Collective
    Closet Collective see the world as their wardrobe. They plan to create a clothing subscription service where people pay a weekly fee to rent quality clothing and return it to the collective wardrobe when they would like something new and different.
The six people who came up with the winning 'Ingrain' vision of transforming the food system by changing from annual to perennial crops, standing in a row in brightly coloured clothes, in front of an audience and the Wellington Climathon judging panel.
The team who came up with the winning Ingrain idea.

The winners received entry into the StartupNZ Entrepreneurs Programme, as well as various prizes which included cash to go towards idea development and implementation, two-months office space, Victoria University Entrepreneurship Kit, Mevo car share credit, and an Outward Bound Scholarship.

One of the judges was Wellington City Councillor Laurie Foon, formerly the Wellington Manager for the Sustainable Business Network. She says the passion, drive, and innovation seen in participants and their ideas was an inspiration.

“It’s important that we recognise many of Wellington’s climate solutions come from innovation programmes such as Climathon!

“We must continue to harness the passion and desire of our innovators, as it has always been my dream that Wellington is recognised globally for being a hub of successful climate solutions initiatives.

“Congratulations to all of the winners – I can’t wait to see their products and services flourishing,” Councillor Foon says.

Climathon Organisers Bobby Lloyd and Emily Dwyer say they are excited to see where the winners take their “game-changing ideas”.

They say the success of the event was down to its wonderful volunteers and main sponsors – Wellington City Council, Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington, and Ministry for the Environment.

Wellington City Councillor and Climate Change Portfolio Lead Tamatha Paul, who gave the opening speech at the Climathon event, says the creative solutions that came out of the challenge will contribute to achieving Wellington’s Te Atakura – First to Zero goal – to reduce emissions produced in the city to net zero by 2050.