Events: Wala Usik Challenge – A Circular Economy Hackathon encourages sustainability innovators to join in last call for entries

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Anyone got a zero-waste idea to pitch for a prize of Php 100,000? The Wala Usik Economy asked around and various people responded with thoughts such as mobile apps for recycling, proper waste management, and putting up sustainable packaging and business solutions.

Now is the chance to make these ideas happen—join the Wala Usik Challenge: A Circular Economy Hackathon by signing up here.



In this 4-day virtual event in August, the organization will help fifteen (15) teams to “hack Wala Usik” and pitch innovative concepts of circular products, packaging and systems, which: (1) design out waste and pollution, (2) keep materials in use, and (3) regenerate natural resources. Five (5) teams with the most innovative circular ideas will each receive a Php 100,000 prize along with a 2-month incubation program, to further firm up their business plans and make their ideas operational.

The Wala Usik Challenge: A Circular Economy Hackathon is also a great opportunity to build a network of advocates, ideators, entrepreneurs and innovators working towards sustainability and a localized circular economy. In the process, we also hope to inspire consumers and the general public to support “Wala Usik”, a Hiligaynon/Bisaya phrase for circular design where ‘nothing is wasted’ and our natural ecosystems are thriving.

Below are the themes for the upcoming hackathon:

  • Product Innovation
    • Products made of native, local and naturally compostable materials
    • Alternative packaging (e.g. bioplastics, edible wraps, dissolvable materials)
    • Reusable or refillable containers
    • Solid formats for traditionally liquid products
    • Equipment or device for refilling or any waste reduction approach (e.g. dispensers, vending machines)
  • Systems Innovation
    • Could be logistical, mechanical or digital
    • Safe and accessible refilling or reuse business models
    • Voluntary deposit return schemes
    • Apps or web-based platforms
    • Shared reuse systems and subscription services
    • Delivery mechanisms
    • Rental and repair business models


Teams must be composed of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 members, the majority of whom should be based in the Philippines. The team leader must be at least 18 years old, a Filipino citizen, and based in the Philippines at the time of the Challenge.

Concepts or ideas are preferred to be in the early stages of business development – minimum viable product prototyping, piloting, building a customer base, up to establishing a strong cash flow. Organizations and teams may pitch new ideas to build on their existing track record or existing network of zero-waste or circular initiatives. Ideas must be supported by a well-developed business concept/prototype and/or initial market validation.

All team members must be available to participate in the 4-day hack dates (August 27-30, 2021). Only official team members can present the pitch during judging. At least one team member must be available to participate in the pre- and post-hack virtual meetings and workshops throughout the Wala Usik Challenge, especially the business planning and incubation activities, with minimum of 4 hours a week from September-October 2021.


  • Circularity: The innovation is designing out waste and pollution, keeping materials in use, regenerating natural resources, and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals – 30%
  • Innovativeness: The innovation demonstrates fresh, different, creative, disruptive approaches to tackling waste issues – 20%
    Community Impact: The innovation is adapted and tailored to the local context, earning benefits for the community’s development, livelihood, climate resilience, and equal opportunity – 20%
  • Financial Sustainability: The innovation has the potential to be sustained financially – 10%
  • Community Support: The innovation has existing partners, investors, market reach and a network of support in the community where it is piloted – 10%
  • Replicability: The innovation has the potential to be replicated and/or scaled- 5%
    Team Composition: The team behind the innovation is diverse and inclusive, and each member’s skills and abilities complement with those of others in the team – 5%

As the Wala Usik Challenge opened its call for entries on Earth Day (22 April 2021), the deadline for applications draws near—interested participants may submit until 6 August 2021.

The announcement of 15 teams as finalists will be on 9 August 2021, with the Pre-Hack briefing and orientation meetings (per finalist team) to be scheduled between 10-20 August 2021.

The official Hack Dates runs from 27-30 August 2021 with the following schedule:

  • Day 1-2: Hack Wala Usik – Input sessions and workshops to prepare the teams
  • Day 3: Wala Usik Challenge Junior Challenge for Circular Cities – side event for young innovators (with separate mechanics and details)
  • Day 4: Pitch Day

Business Planning Workshops and Incubation Program for the 5 winning teams is scheduled between 8 September to 9 October 2021.

The Wala Usik Challenge Winners Convention and Demo Day (live virtual event) will be held on 9 January 2021.

For more details, visit the Wala Usik Challenge webpage.

This hackathon is organized by the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI) for the ‘Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter’ project, co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ and Expertise France. Hosted in the cities of Bacolod and Talisay in the Philippines, the virtual events and the incubation program are in collaboration with the Design Thinking Factory, Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), Association of Negros Producers (ANP), Circulo, Save Philippine Seas, and the Carlos Hilado Memorial State College-DTI Negros Occidental Center for DELIGHT (Design, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Innovation, Good Ideas, Human Development and Technology Transfer).

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