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Circular Connect Competition

Engaging youth in the Western Visayas, Philippines to design circular economy solutions that combat plastic pollution and prevent marine litter

Be the change in your community...
Join our challenge to tackle marine litter by designing circular economy solutions that combat plastic waste. Develop innovative business ideas to reduce single-use plastics, promote sustainable practices, and revolutionise waste management, all while preserving our precious marine ecosystems. Together, let's create a cleaner, circular future for our local seas!

Image by Angela Compagnone

Call for Innovation

How might we effectively tackle the problem of plastic waste and marine litter so that we can contribute to the preservation of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and the tourism sector in the Western Visayas?

Participants will be tasked with developing innovative solutions within the framework of a circular economy to:

  • Reduce single-use plastic and packaging waste

  • Promote sustainable plastic consumption and production

  • Improve land-based waste management systems.

Solutions should consider local contexts, infrastructure limitations, and the involvement of various stakeholders such as governments, businesses, academia, and civil society.

Which higher education institutions can join the competition:

Select institutions in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines who have been invited by GIZ.

Who can join the competition and submit a circular solution:

Any individual, aged 18 and above, who is currently enrolled as a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD student in an eligible higher education institution (all academic disciplines are welcome to join).

This competition is open to teams of 2-5 entrants. We encourage participants to form teams that are diverse and multidisciplinary. Having a diverse team with a wide range of experiences, backgrounds and skills, can help broaden perspectives and spark new and creative ideas.


July 27 - August 22


Participating universities promote the competition on campus and students complete the registration form to gain access to a circular innovation toolkit and resource support to prepare their circular solution submissions.

August 23 - September 19


Registered participants work through the circular innovation toolkit to develop a circular solution. Circular Cities Asia will also provide resource support and host an Ask Us Anything Session.

September 21 - 27


Circular Cities Asia and GIZ Philippines will review the submissions and shortlist the teams that will gain access to an innovation boot camp.

September 29 - October 27


The shortlisted teams receive support in further developing their circular business ideas. After the boot camp, teams submit a short pitch for a chance to win a grant and the opportunity to present during GIZ's national stakeholder forum.

August 22


Students of the participating universities (aged 18+) must submit the registration form by this date to gain access to a circular innovation toolkit and resource support.

September 20


To enter the competition, student teams must complete the competition submission form by this date.

September 28


We will announce the shortlisted teams and email them with next steps to prepare for the innovation boot camp.

Early November


Select teams present their circular solutions during GIZ's national stakeholder forum.


Urgency of the Challenge

Driven by rapid urbanisation, economic development and changing consumption and production patterns, the amount of single-use packaging and plastic items is rapidly increasing in the Philippines and other ASEAN member states. 


At the same time, waste management systems lack effectiveness in terms of environmentally sound collection, sorting, recycling, energy recovery and disposal of plastic waste. These trends significantly contribute to marine littering – a growing local, national, regional and global threat to marine ecosystems and fisheries as well as the tourism sector. Governments, businesses, academia and civil society increasingly recognise that a switch towards a circular economy approach to reduce packaging and plastic waste is needed to tackle these challenges.

Although a global problem, the solution to plastic waste and marine litter varies from one locality to another. Having localised solutions to these problems can significantly reduce the barriers encountered in the implementation.

Circular Innovation Journey

Make sure to pre-register to gain access to a circular innovation toolkit and resource support to help you prepare your circular solution submission.



Here is the circular innovation journey we’ll guide participants through:

Problem Discovery

In this stage you’ll identify a plastic waste problem within your local context and conduct research to better understand the key stakeholders, processes and waste involved, gather meaningful data from potential customers/users about their pain points, and then interpret your findings to figure out if it’s a problem worth solving.

Ideating Solutions

In this stage you’ll focus on the ‘what if’ or ‘what could be the future’. You’ll come up with potential solutions using an ideation process that includes getting inspired by circular design strategies, conceptualising circular ideas and deciding which idea can be a viable solution to the specific plastic waste problem your team identified.

Solution Development

In this stage you’ll focus on making the business case for your circular solution to be implemented. You’ll conduct research on different aspects of business development, such as market sizing and segmentation, unique value propositions, business financials and solution validation. Afterwards you’ll put together a pitch presentation.
**This stage will be in a boot camp format for teams whose circular solution submission gets shortlisted**


Brought to you by:

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Through their 3RproMar project, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, brings forth the Circular Connect Competition. The competition is geared towards providing a platform for the youth sector to develop circular economy-focused solutions that will help tackle the problem of plastic waste and marine litter in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines.


GIZ has engaged Roleen Sevillena of Circular Cities Asia as the implementer of the Circular Connect Competition. For any inquiries, please contact Roleen Sevillena: roleen [@]

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