Game-changers honoured at Sustainia Awards 2015

From repurposing plastic waste into new products to improving roads for pedestrians and cyclists, these projects are real-world solutions that have made a positive impact on communities globally.

A Danish clothing company that rents out organic baby clothes, a climate bond programme that raises funds for green projects in Johannesburg, and solar-powered hearing aids - these initiatives are among the ten finalists of the Sustainia Awards 2015.

Presented alongside the World Climate Summit on Sunday, the Sustainia Awards - held by Danish think tank Sustainia - celebrates the best sustainability ideas and products in 2015. The featured innovations were chosen from more than 1,500 entries by a panel of judges made up of experts from Sustainia and organisations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, United Nations World Food Programme, and World Resources Institute, among others. 

These innovations were part of Sustainia100, 100 innovations which make it easy for consumers and companies to reduce the amount of resources they use and waste and those which address the needs of poor communities. 

This year, the overall Sustainia Award 2015 was given to the Corporation of Chennai for its efforts in transforming the city’s pavements to benefit pedestrians and cyclists. Prior to the programme, more than 10,000 pedestrians and cyclists die every year from road accidents. 

Since 33 kilometres of pavements were added, no death has been reported on those roads. 

“Chennai’s streets today stand as a proud example of bringing in equity into the most common public space in a city,” said Vikram Kapur, commissioner, Corporation of Chennai.

The Sustainia Community Award 2015 was presented to Plastic Bank, a Canadian company that refashions discarded plastic objects into other products. Currently now running the programme in Haiti, Plastic Bank will soon expand into Asia and Africa. 

Collectors exchanges plastic for cash, phone charging, cooking fuels and other life changing items. This social enterprise is sustained by recycling the plastic into “Social Plastic” which is sold to  brands to use in their manufacturing. The company said more than one million people have petitioned brands to use Social Plastic in their products. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Ted Turner, founder of UN Foundation, conservationist and philanthropist by Sir Richard Branson, himself a corporate sustainability advocate.

With the awards, Sustainia hopes to raise awareness of sustainability projects that have had real impact on communities globally.   

The other finalists were Archiblox, Mapdwell, SunCulture Kenya, the City of Johannesburg, Solar Ear, Seoul Metropolitan Government, and Mobisol. 

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