Net Impact Competition Takes Aim at Corporate Paper Recycling

Net Impact Competition Takes Aim at Corporate Paper Recycling

Paper recycling -- Image CC licensed by Flickr user bitmask

Net Impact members in the U.S. and Sweden will tackle the issue of corporate recycling in a contest from the organization, Staples and International Paper (IP).

Students making the final cut in the competition hail from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Kariskrona, Sweden, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs in New York City, and the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business / School of Natural Resources and Environment in Ann Arbor.

The trio of finalists were selected from a larger pool of 10 teams to compete in the semester-long process.

The teams have worked since February to come up with innovative recycling solutions for companies, based on their work with, and feedback from, key players at IP and Staples.

The student teams are now in the midst of submitting their final plans, with the winner to be announced later this month. The winning team will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and one-year passes to the national parks. Winners will also enjoy free registration and travel stipend to Net Impact's annual conference in November, where they will deliver a presentation.

"Exploring creative business solutions will help recover more renewable paper products and put them back to use," David Kiser, IP's vice president of environment, health, safety and sustainability, said in a statement. "It will also support improving environmental footprints, sustaining socially responsible business practices, and increasing economic returns." has tracked paper use and recovery in corporate America for the last three years in its annual State of Green Business report, finding that paper intensity -- the amount of paper used per unit of Gross National Product -- has declined steadily since 2004, with a significant drop between 2007 and 2008.

The American Forest and Paper Association set a goal of increasing recycling rates to 60 percent in 2012, which it exceeded in 2009 with a record-setting recovery rate of 63.4 percent in the U.S.

Competitions that tap the ideas of tomorrow's business leaders to solve environmental problems have generated several headlines at recently. For example, the nonprofit Imagine H20 just kicked off its second contest that will give the winning startup company $100,000 in cash and services for the best solutions to reduce the amount of energy needed to move and treat water and wastewater. Separately, a startup company made up of former MIT grads won $100,000 in funding to help launch its business making nanoengineered cement that reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user bitmask.