SINGAPORE (July 11): RWDC Industries overcame five other finalists at the inaugural edition of The Liveability Challenge to walk away with $980,000 to jumpstart its proposal to replace single-use plastic straws with drinking straws made from a certified biodegradable biopolymer.

Presented by Temasek Foundation Ecosperity and organised by sustainability media Eco-Business, The Liveability Challenge aims to close the gap between the ideas that will make Asia’s cities more sustainable and the investments that will make these solutions a reality.

The global platform hunts for and accelerates the launch of novel solutions to modern day challenges.

Held earlier today, the challenge saw six finalists presenting their solutions across two tracks – sustainable cooling and waste management.

Under the sustainable cooling track, three companies presented their solutions on indoor and outdoor cooling.

Neso presented a building design concept that utilises chilled beam technologies and data driven approach to increase thermal comfort and indoor air quality, while reducing energy and space consumed by mechanical installations.

Latheacond Technologies introduced their Vacuum Assisted Radiant Cooling (VARC) solution that cools people through radiation. Unlike most cooling systems that targets to cool the atmospheric air around, VARC targets body heat, while optimising energy

Founded in Australia, Indoor Climate Technologies developed the Thermosphere, world’s first compact ducted indoor climate system. The Thermosphere is an integration of cooling, heating, purification, filtration and ventilation technologies into one single system, all while being energy efficient and releasing smaller footprint.

The remaining three finalists under the waste management track presented their solutions on circular economy solutions and plastic waste management.

TRIA offers a zero-waste system, Bio24, to treat single-use foodware. This is a two part system that comprises NEUTRIA foodware material that is made of plant derived polyester; and the catalytic digester that converts it into compose within 24 hours.

Project Klean by Klean introduces smart reverse vending machines linked to an app or e-wallet that can be placed in public locations. The machine collects and crushes aluminium cans and plastic bottles onsite in exchange for Klean points that can be redeemed for goods and services, such as discounts on MRT rides, food and even exchanging points for gold.

The winning proposal came from RWDC, which proposed to produce single-use drinking straws made from a biodegradable bioplastic called Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). The straws will be designed to be almost indistinguishable from conventional plastic straw, but will be fully biodegradable in water, soil and marine conditions.

“This platform has provided us the opportunity to educate and raise awareness on single-use plastics. We see fully biodegradable – not just compostable – drinking straws made from PHA as the first step to combating plastic pollution not just in Singapore, but globally,” says Xiao Zhaotan, president (Asia Pacific) of RWDC.

The Liveability Challenge was judged by Elim Chew, founder of FastFast and 77th Street; Vinnie Lauria, managing partner of Golden Gate Ventures; Brandon Courban, executive director of Olympus Capital Asia; Assaad Razzouk, group chief executive of Sindicatum Sustainable Resources; and Lim Hock Chuan, chief executive of Temasek Foundation Ecosperity.

“This is a big win for all of us, not just for RWDC Industries. Our Foundation’s work is to champion sustainability and liveability, and we are doing this in part by funding RWDC Industries’ biodegradable drinking straws and other impactful and innovative solutions that will positively impact Singapore,” says Lim.

“We are excited by all the conversations surrounding the inaugural Challenge, as well as all the promising ideas and enterprise shown by the proposals that we received. We hope that we can continue to see such energies being devoted to improve our living environment, which will collectively make a big difference over time,” he adds.