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Empowering Young Innovators on Their Circular Journey Through CCA’s Micro Grant Programme



Circular Cities Asia (CCA) recognises the importance of supporting young innovators in pursuing circular solutions and innovative business ideas. To facilitate this, CCA offers a Micro Grant Programme to student teams from partner universities, which provides funding for the research and development of circular economy-focused projects.


The Micro Grant Programme offered by CCA has empowered young innovators to make significant strides in their circular innovation journey.


This post highlights some of the student teams that have utilised this opportunity to positively impact their communities and promote sustainability. The projects carried out by these teams demonstrate the transformative power of innovative thinking and the importance of funding and collaboration in driving positive change.


Through their research and development efforts, these teams have successfully utilised waste materials, promoted sustainable practices, raised awareness and contributed to a more circular future. Read on to find out how they put this grant to good use!



Revolutionising Brick Production: Team ReBrix Harnesses Waste Materials for a Sustainable Future

From Bataan Peninsula State University in the Philippines, team ReBrix identified their region's abundance of mussel shells and rice husks as potential resources. They embarked on a research project to explore innovative ways of utilising these waste products in a circular way.


To promote sustainability in the production of pavement bricks, they aimed to reduce waste by substituting crushed mussel shells for fine aggregates and rice husk ash for cement.

Their research determined the optimal mixture and emphasised the importance of further research and development for sustainable brick production. This project achieved its goals of utilising waste materials and promoting sustainability while also providing valuable lessons in problem-solving, teamwork, adaptability and trust.



Team Makakan Empowers Sustainable Practises from Waste to Compost

Focusing on the issue of food waste in Ateneo de Naga University's cafeteria, team Makakan conducted a comprehensive survey involving stakeholders to assess the problem's extent.


Their project proposes a "food-to-food" framework, utilising organic food waste to produce compost using bioreactors powered by grid energy and solar panels. By turning food waste into compost and promoting sustainable waste management practices, they aim to reduce food waste on campus.


The team successfully encouraged individuals at the university to participate in composting their own food waste. The project also promotes social and environmental responsibility through sustainable actions and practices.


Lessons learned from the project include the importance of adapting to constraints, compromising for the best interests of all parties involved and the transformative impact of programmes like CCA’s Circular Campus Programme in promoting sustainability and empowering individuals to make a positive impact.



VGU Book Booth Promotes Knowledge Sharing and Reduces Paper Waste

The Kartoffel group from the Sustainable Urban Development Master’s programme at the Vietnamese-German University (VGU) addressed the issue of paper waste in the printing industry.


Their project, VGU Book Booth 0.0, established an Exchange Box on campus where individuals could deposit and exchange books, newspapers, and magazines. This initiative aims to reduce paper waste, promote knowledge sharing and foster a reading culture among students. The implementation of the book booth was successful, with enthusiastic participation from students, professors and staff.


The project used Micro Grant funding, which allowed for the purchase of materials and the establishment of the first book booth. The team learned valuable skills in teamwork, construction management, quality management and project progress. They also realised the importance of securing funding for community projects and were grateful for the support they received from CCA.


They aim to secure additional funding to expand the project and benefit the local community, particularly children and low-income workers in Binh Duong.



Coffee Grounds to Mushrooms: Promoting Circular Economy and 3R Concept in Vietnam

Another team of students from the Vietnamese-German University and the Technical University of Darmstadt focused on repurposing coffee grounds for mushroom cultivation.


Recognising the increasing demand for mushrooms in Vietnam, they used coffee grounds as a resource to promote the circular economy concept. The team built connections with coffee shop owners and raised awareness about the importance of the 3R concept (reduce, reuse, recycle).


The project received the CCA Micro Grant, which helped them pay for research efforts, transportation and mushroom care. So far, the project has been positive in promoting the circular economy and the importance of the 3R concept. The team has established connections with coffee shop owners, reused waste materials and transformed them into a medium for growing mushrooms.


Challenges regarding the quality of mushrooms for sale or export, led them to adjust their approach and focus on growing mushrooms at home/dormitories for better quality control.


The team is grateful for the Micro Grant and hopes to receive further funding to expand their project and develop a qualified mushroom farm using coffee grounds.



A Sustainable Solution for Improved Quality and Reduced Waste by Cementos

Team Cementos from Bataan Peninsula State University used the Micro Grant from CCA to explore using banana and orange peel waste as a partial replacement material in cement production.


They aim to produce improved quality and economical cement while minimising carbon dioxide emissions and fruit waste generated. The team conducted experiments and found that incorporating 4% banana peel powder (BPP) in ordinary Portland cement (OPC) increased compressive strength over time. However, adding orange peel powder (OPP) led to a significant reduction in strength. Further investigations are needed to determine the optimal percentage of BPP and OPP and analyse chemical reactions and water absorption characteristics.


The project has provided valuable learning opportunities, led to a better understanding of the subject, expanded the team’s knowledge in diverse fields and developed their problem-solving skills.


The support from CCA has been instrumental in overcoming financial limitations and enabling the team to dedicate their resources to the research project. The outcomes highlight the satisfaction of validating research, contributing to existing knowledge and the importance of exploring unexplored possibilities, creativity and innovation.



Team Circlyst’s Approach to Sustainable Waste Management Transforms Plastic Waste into Economic Growth

Team Circlyst from Universitas Diponegoro (UNDIP) in Indonesia focused on waste management on their campus, explicitly addressing the poor sorting of plastic waste. They implemented a circular economy approach to transform plastic waste into items that can be sold, creating a new economic chain.


By producing UNDIP merchandise using recycled plastic waste, they can help build awareness among UNDIP students and the community regarding waste sorting and sustainability on campus.


The team learned the importance of planning, understanding the characteristics of plastic waste and involving various stakeholders in waste management. They also learned the need for continuous product analysis and evaluation, maintaining and improving product quality, and conducting extensive promotions through different channels.



Forging ahead with innovative solutions for a circular future...

These projects testify to CCA's commitment to promoting sustainable development and empowering individuals to take action towards a circular future. Through the Micro Grants and other support provided by CCA, these students have successfully developed innovative solutions to address environmental waste challenges in their communities.


CCA plays a crucial role in creating a sustainable future by supporting such projects. These initiatives reduce waste, promote sustainable practices and foster essential skills such as problem-solving, teamwork and adaptability, while also highlighting the potential for further research and expansion.


Through initiatives such as the Micro Grant Programme, CCA can help pave the way for a sustainable and circular future where young innovators play a crucial role in shaping a more environmentally conscious society.


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