This hack intends to bring together like-minded sustainability innovators who want to tackle the global plastic waste endemic and collaborate to design and create solutions focused on eliminating, reducing, recycling, reusing and redesigning single-use plastic products.


“How might we use the latest advancements in science and technology to transform the global plastic waste endemic and create sustainable products and practical solutions to eliminate, reduce, recycle or reuse plastic waste to clean up our planet, protect our ecosystems and human health?”



Half of the plastic produced globally is destined for a single-use product and within less than a year, half of all plastic produced will become trash. It is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.

Recent Greenpeace analysis found that Australians alone use over 9.7 billion single-use plastic bags annually and figures obtained by The Guardian reveal that a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. If our plastic production continues on this level there will be 12-million kilograms of waste in landfill or in the natural environment by 2050. That’s equivalent to 1.8 billion African elephants or an area the size of Argentina if laid out at ankle level.




Economical – Plastic is cheap and quick to produce. Production and resourcing sustainable alternative materials may cost more and may not be fit-for-purpose

Convenience – plastic is convenient for consumers and businesses. Consumers don’t want to [always] carry their own shopping bags, cutlery, keep-cups, straws, etc.  Recycling and responsible disposable facilities are not easily accessible – see Access and availability of resources section below

Social, behaviours and habits – ordering take-away, taking a straw for a drink, etc. are common behaviours that create waste

Education – Lack of awareness:

  • of the impact of mass plastic consumption on the planet, ecosystems and human health, and;
  • how and what to recycle, where to take waste/unwanted/broken products

Access and availability of waste management resources – beyond the average households’ yellow recycling waste bins and quarterly council clean-ups days there are no easily accessible or commonly-known resources for collecting waste products that could be recycled, or could be discarded more responsibility (i.e. electrical waste, batteries, etc.)

Environment/Technology – Storage and conditions to store an alternate, i.e. can temperature or movement impact the volatility on alternate material



We have also some great prizes to win! We have 3 different categories:

  1. UNSW Founders 1 x first prize for the overall best idea $3,000 and 2 x runner up prizes of 6 week support
  2. PLuS Alliance overall winner $2,000
  3. UNSW Sustainability $1,000 for the best idea solving one of the following challenges:
    1. A reuse solution or system to replace single-use plastic food containers
    2. Other measures to support our objective of eliminating single-use use plastics from campus
    3. An app or other communication channel bring about sustainable behaviour change (e.g. through gamification)

Judging Criteria

Criteria Guiding Question(s)
INNOVATION (the idea) Need: Does the project identify a compelling need and present a clear solution to a local or global challenge?
Originality: How bold or fresh is the idea driving this project?
IMPACT (the idea’s potential) Growth: Is the potential for the concept to grow or scale explained?
Sustainability: Does the project demonstrate the ability to sustain itself in the long term?
Growth & Sustainability: Is the potential for the concept to grow, scale and sustain explained?
Metrics: Are the metrics for measuring impact and success explained?
IMPLEMENTATION (how the idea will happen) Budget: Does the applicant/team provide a coherent, detailed budget?
Timeline: How feasible is the timeline for implementation and is it well thought out?
Risks: Does the applicant/ team address risks and challenges and how they will overcome them?
Feasibility: How feasible is the implementation and is it well thought out?
PRESENTATION Presentation: Is the overall aesthetic and appearance of the executive summary and slides clear, consistent and effective?
STRUCTURE OF PITCH Structure: Is the team’s pitch organized, clear and concise? Does the team allocate time for questions?
DELIVERY OF PITCH Delivery: Does the team effectively use professionalism, confidence, posture, eye contact and tone to communicate their idea?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a hack?

First up, it’s nothing scary or illegal! Some hacks (including this one) don’t even involve computer programming. A hack is an event, usually occurring over a few days, that encourages people to collaborate in an intensive way to help solve a problem.

What makes a hack so rewarding is the intensity of the experience- you’ll form fast friends and come up with solutions quickly- and the fact that you get to see the outcomes of all that collaborating really quickly. The magic happens when people from all different backgrounds come together and spark ideas in one another that alone, they would never have thought of.

Why run a hack?

Hacks are a great way to get the ball rolling on solving a whole range of real world issues. They also help you build collaboration skills that are going to be a real asset once you’ve left university.

How are teams formed?

Teams will need to have 4-6 members with no more than 3 members in a single discipline. On the first day we’ll hold a team-formation exercise which already-formed groups and solo hackers join together as teams.

Who owns the IP of the solutions?

Please refer to the MCIC Hack Code of Conduct webpage –

What skills and experience do I need to join this hack?

We’d love to see students from all faculties participating! Whether you’re a student from the Business School, Arts and Social Sciences, Medicine, Law or Engineering (or anything else we’ve missed!) your skills and perspectives will be vital and put to good use. There is no prerequisite knowledge needed- we’ll teach you everything you need to know!

Do I need to stay at MCIC the entire time?

We know that you have other obligations and full weekend is a big commitment, however at least half of your team needs to be present at all times!

Do you have a code of conduct?

Absolutely. Participating students agree to abide by the UNSW Code of Conduct:


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