IUCN – Circular Plastic Economy Innovation Lab

Accelerating the transition towards a circular plastic economy in the ESA region

As part of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)-funded Marine Plastics and Coastal Communities (MARPLASTICCs) project implemented in the Eastern and Southern Africa region, IUCN has established the regional Circular Plastic Economy Innovation Lab (CPEIL). The CPEIL aims to accelerate, at regional, national and sub-national levels, the transition at scale towards a circular plastic economy as a driver of development of a sustainable, inclusive and resilient blue economy. Through the CPEIL, IUCN intends to identify and support one initiative per country.

Ideal proposals showcase initiatives that foster strong cooperation and coordination between various stakeholders across the plastic value chain for enhanced plastic leakage reduction or avoidance; demonstrate application of circular economy principles in practice; contribute to reduced or avoided leakage of plastics into the marine environment; and capture lessons to help others better develop sustainable plastic leakage reduction or avoidance measures.

The CPEIL’s acceleration program designed together with the African accelerator OceanHub Africa will select four projects, one each from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa and provide support to scale over the next five months.


Becoming part of IUCN program will allow you to:

  • Unlock a network of leading experts, mentors (entrepreneurs, innovation experts, impact experts, scientists, lawyers, etc.), impact investors and potential clients
  • Get support to fast-track your growth by acquiring new customers or running your first Proof of Concept, and scaling your business through commercial contracts and fundraisers.


  • Mentorship & Support:
    • Weekly thematic training sessions
    • Hands-on mentorship from our team of mentors
    • Tailored business skills and personal development 1 to 1 coaching
  • Network:
    • Access to networking events and conferences, including participation at the IUCN World Conservation
    • Congress (September 2021), Ocean Innovation Africa Summit (November 2021), among others
    • Access to potential clients (market leads) for local expansion
    • Access to our international network of ocean-impact incubators/accelerators to scale overseas
  • Fundraising Support:
    • Initial funding of $10 000 per shortlisted project
    • Support in preparing and running investor pitches, including training sessions with investors directly to further financial support offered by this program


  • Initiative undertakes plastic leakage reduction efforts;
  • Operates in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique or South Africa;
  • Contributes to social impact;
  • Is innovative by design;
  • Achieves a scalable product or service;
  • Initiative demonstrates ‘a prototype’ or ‘soon to have a prototype’ looking for growth;
  • Assigns a full-time equivalent resource dedicated to the project.


  • Impact on plastic leakage reduction efforts: potential, measurability
  • Business model: Business readiness, Business traction, Revenue streams, Market potential, Go to market strategy
  • Technology: Level of innovation, Technology readiness, Reliability/sustainability, Scalability/adaptability, Differentiators, Intellectual property
  • Team: Skills (technology, business, impact), Relevant experience, Vision and values


Program to start on July 19th for 12 weeks, ending on Oct 8th

Important notice: entrepreneurs will be required to free up 1h for pitch training the week commencing July 5th, and must be present to pitch before our Selection Committee on July 12th afternoon !


June 29, 2021
Program dates Jul 19 - Oct 8, 2021
OrganizerInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Website Visit website
Targets Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania
Sectors Consumer non-durables, Packaging, Waste management and recycling
SDG (6)
10. Reduced Inequality, 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 14. Life Below Water, 17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal, 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure