Mayor of London Carbon Entrepreneur participants

Challenges

Are you looking for some inspiration or for an idea of a problem that needs solving?

To give you somewhere to start, we have identified some environmental challenges facing London.

If none of these appeal to you, keep an eye on this page - we will add more throughout the course of the competition. 

These are only some of the issues that we face in London so we still welcome all other ideas to make London a better place to live.

Carpets

In London 21,250 tonnes of carpet waste is produced each year with 72% of this going to landfill. Carpets are heavy and bulky and many local waste centres don’t choose to separate out carpets as the methods of recycling currently available don’t add up financially.

Can you find a solution?

Additional information and stats:

Delivery packaging

More shopping is being done online than ever before. The things we buy need to be delivered safely to us but often arrive with many layers of packaging that has to be disposed of. This packaging also takes up space in the delivery vans making them make more trips.

Can you fix the packaging for something you have ordered?

Additional information and stats:

  • Globally only 14% of plastic packaging is recycled with the rest (worth over $80 billion) only used once. 32% ends up in the natural environment where it can take hundreds of years to breakdown.
  • New plastics economy on Ellen MacArthur Foundation website

 

Domestic CHP

Lots of homes have been installing biomass boilers to burn wood and other fuels for low carbon heat and sometimes power. Each one is small but does create particulate matter (PM) air pollution and when they are all added together this can reduce air quality.

How would you solve this?

Additional information and stats:

Mattresses

Mattresses are heavy and bulky to dispose of. When recycled they are often broken down into their component parts individually by hand.

Can you design a better mattress or way of reusing their components?

Additional information and stats:

Office furniture

As businesses take on more staff and change how they use their offices they often need to refurbish or change how spaces are set up. Only 9% of office furniture is reused when a company gets rid of it.

What would you do with it?

Could you reduce the need for always having completely new furniture?

Additional information and stats:

Private water

Average water use is currently 160 litres per person per day. Water demand is set to outstrip supply in London by 2025. With more droughts expected this will be even more of a challenge.

Could you design a solution?

Additional information and stats:

Public water

There is a lack of access to tap water in public spaces in London. This has been linked to an increase in the use of single use plastic bottles. Infrastructure costs in London can be very high and this makes it harder to keep access to tap water free or very low cost.

Can you find a solution?

Additional information and stats:

Recycling in flats

On average 50% of London’s population live in flats, with some areas being as high as 80%. Flats often have a lack of storage space for recycling and residents have to carry their recycling to a central collection area creating the challenge. 

Can you design a solution?

Additional information and stats:

  • Research has shown that currently even flats with well established recycling services and communal collections still have around 50% less recycling than average low rise properties with a kerbside collection.
  • WRAP Guidance for Recycling Collection in Flats
Refrigerated trucks

Nearly all large (HGV) refrigerated trucks have a second diesel engine to power the cooling needed to keep food safe while it is transported. Whenever the doors are opened the truck must be cooled again. The engines, drivers actions and truck rig designs all add to emissions and so reduce air quality.

Can you find a way to reduce their emissions?

Additional information and stats:

  • Emissions from these second engines don’t currently have to be declared and regulations on efficiency are limited but being improved.
  • The engines are also allowed to use red diesel which is not taxed so there is no financial reason for companies to push efficiency.
  • There are 26,000 large refrigerated trucks in the UK.
Tyres

Car and truck tyres are hard to recycle. One reason for this is they pick up chemicals from the road and vehicle emissions as they are being used. They also shed small pieces of rubber onto the road that creates particulate matter (PM) air pollution.

Could you find a better way to recycle them or make a stronger tyre?

Additional information and stats: