Global sustainable food packaging leader Huhtamaki is donating €600,000 to fund a project that aims to stop the flow of plastic into the Indian Ocean from the Mithi River in Mumbai, India. The project is one of three initiatives that Huhtamaki has funded as part of its 100-year anniversary to address global sustainability challenges and build and learn from circular economy initiatives globally.

The Mithi River project is run by a global partnership between the United Nations Technology Innovation Labs UNTIL, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, RiverRecycle and Earth5R. Each partner has a unique role in the project which seeks to use emerging technologies to collect plastic waste from the river and raises awareness on effective waste management in order to drive systemic change locally. The project is also focused on developing ways to valorize waste, e.g. by turning it into valuable fuels, chemicals, bio energy and bio fertilizers.

More specifically, Earth5R, an India-based citizen-led environmental movement, is organizing local hands-on workshops with key stakeholders on effective waste management and recycling with a view to drive systemic change.

RiverRecycle, a Finnish cleantech start-up, provides the technology to collect the plastic and floating debris from the river for recycling, thus stopping it from entering the Indian Ocean.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland will collect and analyze data on the floating waste and its seasonal variations in order to optimise the river’s clean-up operations and recycling process development for the future. It will share this information to support future circular economy studies and initiatives.

The United Nations Technology Innovation Labs UNTIL manages the project and provides expertise both in India as well as on valorizing the collected waste via sorting and recycling.

“The partnership organisations are delighted to be working with the Huhtamaki team and look forward to delivering this groundbreaking initiative over the coming 18 months,” says Professor Joseph Adelegan, circular economy lead for UNTIL. “The collected data will also support future circular economy studies and can serve as a starting point for possible future clean-up actions with optimal resource use,” he continues.

Charles Héaulmé, president and chief executive of Huhtamaki, said: “Huhtamaki is committed to protecting people, food and the planet. We are happy to support local initiatives together with partners across the value chain, learning from those experiences, and developing the systemic changes towards circularity and a sustainable future globally.”

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