Save our Seas student challenge targets plastic ocean waste

The IET has launched a new Save our Seas competition which challenges young engineers to devise solutions to the problems of ocean plastics and toxic pollution.

Save our Seas
(Credit: Pixabay)

Open to engineers aged 18-35, the IET Global Challenge is split into two separate competitions sponsored by Greenpeace and GreenSeas Trust. The Greenpeace challenge requires teams to think of ideas for reusable packaging designs or new approaches that enable supermarkets to dramatically reduce the need for packaging. According to Greenpeace, our oceans are slowly turning into a "plastic soup” with part of the problem being single-use plastic. More than 80 per cent of marine litter originates from land and only 9 per cent of global plastic is currently being recycled.

Meanwhile, the GreenSeas strand of the competition is challenging teams to create a remotely controlled all-terrain machine that can move up and down the beach, picking up cigarette butts from the surface of the sand and collecting them in a chamber or hopper. It’s estimated that there are about four trillion cigarette butts already in our oceans, each one leaching toxic chemicals into the water.

“This competition is all about giving young engineers a platform to highlight their innovations,” said IET president Mike Carr. “By shining a light on a particular problem we’ve found that engineers think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions.

“Previous winners of this challenge have gone on to see their innovations become a reality, so this is a great way to make a difference and solve a real-world challenge.”

Each winning team will receive a £500 cash prize, a trophy and an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the IET's Innovation Awards ceremony in London where their winning solution will be revealed to the audience. The closing date for entries is 14 March 2019. More information on Save our Seas can be found at