Blog #4

Blog #4

Calling all Engineers: Come and Make a Difference to our Oceans

At GreenSeas Trust, we are all about finding new and innovative ways to help reduce plastic pollution and save our seas. For our latest project, we have teamed up with The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), along with Greenpeace, to embark on an exciting mission that engages talented young engineers and has the power to solve real-life problems.

What is the project?

Each year, the IET runs a Global Challenge, a competition for young engineers aged 18-35. This year, entrants have two challenges they can choose from, and those challenges have been set by us and by Greenpeace! We are so excited to be in such good company, running a prestigious competition with great innovators.

What is the challenge set by GreenSeas Trust?

Our brief: To create a robot that collects cigarette butts on beaches, reducing the amount of pollution making its way into the sea.

We want our young engineers to create a remotely controlled, all-terrain machine that can easily move along a beach, collecting cigarette butts in a chamber or hopper. It needs to have a decent capacity and will be manually emptied when it’s full.

When a beach clean up takes place, most machines can only remove bigger pieces of rubbish, using a scoop or drag mechanism to collect sand. This means that cigarette butts are easily missed, a problem that needs to be resolved with this new machine.

We are looking for a device that is:

  • Solar powered with a long battery life
  • Resistant to sand, salt and water
  • Small and agile, able to navigate beaches and avoid obstacles

One of our key values is to inspire behavioural change, so we would love our engineers to come up with something akin to our #BinForGreenSeas. We want the machines to be bold and eye-catching, helping to draw people’s attention, educate them about the problem of waste disposal on beaches, and encourage them to consider their actions in future.

The challenge we have designed will really get young engineers thinking. The winning team will need top-notch engineering, technical and commercial skills for their entry to succeed, as well as the drive and creativity to do something wonderful for our planet.

And the prize?

The IET is providing a £500 cash prize and trophy.

The winning team will also win an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the IET’s prestigious Innovation Awards ceremony in London, where the winning solutions will be revealed to the audience.

The winners are also invited to take the stage to receive their prizes.

Why is this challenge so important?

Many people are now aware of the damage that can be cause by plastic drinking straws, and positive actions have been taken by businesses and individuals to reduce their usage. However, lots of us are still unaware of the issues caused by cigarettes. Filters are made from plastic fibres that are not biodegradable, and around four trillion cigarette butts are already in our oceans!

Today, cigarette butts are the items most frequently found during beach clean ups, with one international clean finding more than 1.8 million of them in a day! It’s imperative that cigarettes don’t make their way into the sea, otherwise the problems have already begun.

We’ve already made a start to tackling the problem at its roots, handing out free pocket ashtrays to beachgoers in Cannes, France. We are determined to continue our good work, and this is where our challenge comes in. With the help of IET and talented young engineers, we’re tackling the problem head on.

Could you enter?

This competition is open to anyone who is a student or young professional, aged between 18 and 35 at the time of launch.

People enter as part of a team with 3-4 members, and entrants can be based anywhere in the world. One team member will need to be a member of the IET.

There are two rounds to the competition – here are the requirements:

Round one:

  • Introduction
  • Technical description
  • Product features
  • Technical considerations
  • Conclusion

Round two:

  • Executive summary
  • Technical comparison and feasibility report
  • Comparison of solutions
  • Cost implications
  • Manufacturing
  • Technical description
  • Materials
  • Implementation
  • Marketing strategy
  • Branding
  • Marketing pitch
  • An elevator pitch

You will need to complete round one, then teams will be shortlisted to complete round two.  

A little more about the IET

The IET is one of the largest engineering institutions in the world, comprising more than 168,000 members. The IET has a number of resources and events that it uses to inform and influence members, with the aim of engineering a better world. We find their approach to innovation inspiring, and it is an honour to work with such a forward thinking organisation that has real energy and drive to make the global engineering community a better place to be and to work. We know we will be able to achieve great things together.

Help us achieve our mission!

Get involved, take part, spread the word – let people know about our challenge with IET. The more people who know, the better. We look forward to seeing some fabulous entries come in: let’s work together and pool our resources to make our planet a better place.