In a posting on the website NineSights - run by open innovation expert NineSigma - DSM et al say they are looking for “ideas for more sustainable packaging or more effective delivery options for micronutrient powders (MNPs) in very low resource environments in developing countries”.
MNPs are single-dose packets that contain a powder of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B-vitamins, zinc, and iron that can be mixed into foods.
Current packets are hard to recycle and repurpose
To date, a partnership between DSM, Sight and Life and the World Food Programme has distributed more than 200 million sachets of a MNP product known as MixMe.
Currently, MixMe packaging comprises a packet made of two layers of composite foil composed of aluminum, PET, and polyethylene designed to protect the contents from heat, light and humidity, and contains 1g of MNP.
However, the packets are difficult to recycle or repurpose while the conditions under which they are distributed (refugee camps or environments with extremely limited waste disposal systems) makes their disposal challenging.
Wanted: A more sustainable packaging material
According to NineSigma, the successful idea must:
• Offer a more sustainable packaging material that can be recycled or repurposed to reduce the effects of waste OR replace the current packaging method with an effective alternative method or approach to distributing MNPs to millions.
• Protect the vitamins and minerals in the powders from harsh conditions including moisture, UV light and degradation in hot and humid environments.
• Be safe and hygienic.
• Cost less than 1.5 cents per serving OR if the unit cost is greater, the packaging or delivery method should be fully recyclable or be able to be repurposed.
• Be compatible with manufacturing more than 100 million units a year.
A reward of up to $25,000
Ideally, respondents should include ideas/methods to repurpose the packaging or to collect and ship the used packages to recycling or composting centers, adds NineSigma.
The partners are offering a reward of “up to $25,000 for novel, feasible, and cost-effective” solutions to their challenge, while there may also be an opportunity for the successful respondent to work with DSM et al to further develop the selected idea.
Initially, respondents must submit only non-confidential information.
Click here for full details of the NineSigma challenge.
Click here to read more about MixMe.