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Makeathon participants develop solutions for sustainable recycling

Taking part in the Packaging Valley Remote Makeathon on June 25 and 26, students and young professionals at Optima developed three potential solutions for more sustainable recycling economy. Because of the Corona pandemic, the development competition was decentralised and held at a variety of locations.

Packaging Valley and Packaging Excellence Region Stuttgart, supported by ITQ, organised the first Packaging Valley Remote Makeathon. This neologism, created out of ‘to make’ and ‘marathon’, describes a collaborative competition for developing software and hardware, held within a specific period of time. Students, young professionals and technology enthusiasts met at different locations to work together on solutions for digitalisation and sustainability in packaging machine construction. All the participants were connected via digital platforms, and at the end they presented their ideas, solutions and developments. 

In Optima's new Digital Innovation Centre, the participants devised three solution approaches for a more environmentally friendly recycling business. Using the slogan ‘Talking Foods – Smart minimisation of food waste’, the students presented a ‘dynamic tag’ to replace what up till now has been the customary barcode on food packaging to inform retailers and consumers about stock levels, and so provide prompt notification of potential spoilage. Another idea was standardised reusable packaging with built-in data chips that are centrally manufactured and reprocessed. These promise logistics gains, make centralised recycling possible, and through the data storage that is integrated, create transparency about stock levels. The third team developed a prototype for a ‘fully automated non-packaged loading’. After the desired weight has been entered, the bulk material, for instance coffee beans, is dispensed into reusable containers. 

For the next step, the participants are planning to do market research and begin close cooperation with all companies involved in the value chain – from packaging machinery manufacturers to food companies. This is how they intend to continue to grow their projects and integrate them into the recycling economy over the long term. 

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