Circular Economy Challenge 2022

UGent student wins prestigious Circular Economy Challenge 2022

The Circular Economy Challenge 2022 has been around since 2007 and invites engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, innovators, start-ups, companies and students to showcase their ideas, technologies, products and services. The 2022 Challenge was set up by Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials, in cooperation with Wevolver, which links a business accelerator programme to it, called Growth Garage, and saw third-year UGent student Wannes Van Laerhoven win the prize with his Additive Manufacturing (AM) project.

What is Growth Garage?

The aim of the Growth Garage is to support and grow new ideas by using new technologies, advanced engineering materials and, most importantly, creative minds to tackle some of today’s most important engineering challenges. Selected candidates will receive full support, expertise and materials to help develop their projects from initial prototype to final product.

Circular Economy Challenge mission

The Circular Economy Challenge 2022 focused specifically on sustainability. In today’s economy, we take materials from the earth, turn them into products and eventually throw them away as waste – the process is linear. In a circular economy, on the other hand, we stop producing waste in the first place. A circular economy disconnects economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. It is a resilient system that is good for business, people and the environment.

Participants in the Circular Economy Challenge can register for three different programmes: Challenger Winner, WeVolver Community Winner and Student Award Winner. Each project is judged by an 11-member jury active in the circular economy, taking into account three major themes: feasibility, scalability and circularity.

To participate, the project must fall within one of these two categories:

  1. Recycling Technology

Mechanical and/or chemical recycling is essential to produce sustainable thermoplastic polymers, minimise landfill, close the loop and facilitate the implementation of the circular economy.

  • Products & Parts

This category is specifically for product designers working within the circular economy. Here they demonstrate their products or components designed, developed or manufactured with a low environmental footprint. 

Bron: Wannes Van Laerhoven

UGent wins prizes

Wannes Van Laerhoven, third-year student Industrial Design, competed in both categories of the Circular Economy Challenge 2022 and was unanimously voted Student Winner by the jury team and Wevolver Community Winner by their community. For the first time ever in the Engineering Challenges, a participant was selected as the winner in two categories.

The UGent student won this prestigious award thanks to his AM-related project in which old tyres are recycled to produce a 3D printing filament. The filament is then used to print new, high quality pneumatic tyres. These tyres are collected at the end of their life and recycled again to make 3D printing filaments. This closes the loop, making the process fully circular.

Bron: Wannes Van Laerhoven