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IKEA YDA 2019 saw 20 unique innovations to tackling waste

Aimed to address waste decadence in Singapore and Asia, this year’s IKEA Singapore’s Young Designer Award (IKEA YDA) challenged students to propose and develop design innovations across four major waste streams – food, plastics, paper or packaging, and e-waste.

Held at The Red Box on 1 July 2019 (Monday), the Grand Finale of IKEA YDA 2019 saw the Top 20 finalists from across Singapore’s tertiary institutions make their final pitch to the judges in hopes of emerging as the winner.

IKEA YDA - IKEA's speech
Ms Bee Lian Soh, Head of Sustainability at IKEA Southeast Asia.

“The ideas submitted and presented by the students this year have been nothing short of impressive. We are heartened to see the youth of today show concern for the environment and put on their thinking hats to develop meaningful solutions to solve some of the most pressing and complex issues. We hope that IKEA YDA will continue to provide young designers with a solid platform to further amplify their innovative design ideas and make a real difference,” said Ms Bee Lian Soh, Head of Sustainability at IKEA Southeast Asia.

Now in its sixth year running, IKEA YDA has grown to include meaningful partnerships with local organisations, including the National Environment Agency (NEA), who provided consultation on content and support during the Design Jam. 

NEA also launched the Say Yes To Waste Less campaign on 8 June 2019 (Saturday) at IKEA Tampines, during which IKEA Singapore pledged to remove all single-use plastics from the home furnishing range by the end of 2019 in a bid to support Singapore’s drive towards a Zero Waste Nation.

IKEA YDA - minister having a look at students' designs

“I am glad that IKEA has chosen ‘Zero Waste Challenge’ for this year’s IKEA YDA theme, in support of us designating 2019 as Singapore’s Year Towards Zero Waste,” said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, during the announcement of results at IKEA YDA 2019. “Over the last 40 years, the amount of waste disposed of in Singapore has jumped sevenfold. We generated almost 8 million tonnes of waste in 2018. We need to take urgent action now to reduce, reuse and recycle our resources to turn waste into a resource, trash into treasure.”

Government measures for Zero Waste

IKEA YDA - Minister's speech
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources.

Dr Amy Khor also announced that her Ministry would be introducing a mandatory reporting framework for packaging waste, including plastics, from 2020. Under the new framework, businesses such as brand owners, importers and large retailers, including supermarkets, are required to collect data on the types and amounts of packaging that they place on the market, and submit plans for reduction.

Also, the Ministry will implement the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach for e-waste by 2021, and for packaging waste by 2025. Under the EPR framework, producers will be responsible for the proper recycling and disposal of their products at the end-of-life. 

Winning designs at IKEA YDA 2019

Shin Heetae of Raffles College of Higher Education’s project idea of Glodlampa stood out from the rest and was crowned as the overall winning design of IKEA YDA. Glodlampa was developed with the idea of creating a zero-waste packaging design. By combining the often-discarded packaging into the overall layout, Glodlampa hopes to show consumers that packaging can be incorporated seamlessly into product design and ultimately reduce waste by enabling the dual usage of the product packaging. 

IKEA YDA - winner

When asked about the marketing potential of his prototype, Heetae said “I feel that my idea is still at the concept stage. I want to develop more designs that appeal to consumers’ tastes, while (also maintaining) IKEA’s brand identity.”

As the top winner, Heetae will receive $1,500 in cash, and a trip to IKEA of Sweden and SPACE10 in Copenhagen.

Joining Heetae on the ranks are Loh Yi Wen and Gan Shoau Huay (Team LohGan) from LASALLE College of the Arts, and Jordan Lim Yong Sheng from Singapore Polytechnic, whose designs won the first and second runner-ups respectively.

IKEA YDA - 1st runner-up

With shower bottles contributing to a massive portion of modern day’s plastic pollution and shower gel pumps often pumping out more products than needed, soap bars are a low-cost and eco-friendly alternative. However, not many consumers are fond of them. “People find it unhygienic because after you have your shower, the bacteria will stick onto the soap bars. It also slips from their grip very easily,” shared the duo. To address this issue, team LohGan came up with SLUSS, a body scrub that also acts as a casing for soap bars. Yi Wen and Shoau Huay hope that their design will encourage the public to reduce plastic waste by replacing soap bottles with soap bars.

Yi Wen and Shoau Huay also mentioned that their design is still a work-in-progress. “Other than a scrub for the body, it would be nice if we had a scrub for the scalp as well. We’d also have to make the design aesthetically pleasing for the different demographics (i.e. children, teens, female, etc.).”

IKEA YDA - 2nd runner-up

Meanwhile, Jordan’s smart innovation – the Zero Food Waste app – was designed to tackle food waste in various aspects of a typical person’s day to day life while trying to create a community movement towards reducing food waste via interactions and connections that is a product of the application’s features. With features like Inventory, Trade, Where To and Donate, the app hopes to tackle the issue of over-buying and provide methods to optimise the use of each ingredient before it goes to waste. Jordan hopes that, when used optimally, Zero Food Waste will exponentially reduce food waste in Singapore.

Jordan also shared his plans for the app moving forward. “I’d like to look into how the app can be self-sustainable, or who I can work with to increase the number of users who utilise the app, which will, in turn, see a greater impact in the reduction of food waste.”

The teams of the winning designs – including two merit awardees – will each receive $1,000 seed funding from the National Youth Council to develop their prototypes which will be displayed at IKEA Tampines’ retail store from 1 August. Customers visiting the store will then be able to vote for their favourite idea online, with the winning team clinching the People’s Choice Award and a SG$200 IKEA gift card.

Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.

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Deepa D/O Sundararaju

Animal and music lover, bookworm and movie enthusiast. #blackismyhappycolour

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