Arizona City Chosen as First U.S. Site to Tackle Plastic Waste

QBE North America announced that the city of Surprise, Arizona, has been selected as the pilot site for an initiative aimed at helping cities and other sites reduce plastic waste. The initiative, developed by UK-based company Automedi, was the winner of the 2022 QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge, hosted by Leading Cities in partnership with QBE North America. Automedi won City Solution of the Year garnering a cash prize of $100,000 to fund the pilot project.

Each year, the QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge attracts hundreds of entrepreneurs and start-ups from around the world who compete to win the City Solution of the Year award, as well as other awards. In 2022, Automedi beat out more than 550 competitors to take the top prize with its circular, self-contained solution to turn plastic waste into functional products using 3D printing vending machines.

“The City of Surprise is honored to be chosen as the pilot site for Automedi’s innovative plastic waste reduction solution, as our region is in need of forward-thinking recycling solutions,” said Kristin Tytler, City of Surprise Public Works Director. “Like many cities and municipalities across the country, Surprise paused curbside recycling due to soaring costs and a decreased market for recyclables that left a high percentage in the landfill. After searching for more sustainable recycling solutions, the City is in the process of resuming curbside collection. Automedi’s pilot solution will be a great supplement to that and a unique way to showcase how plastic waste can be made into useful products.”

Automedi, a pioneer in the field of decentralized circular microeconomies, is poised to revolutionize the way plastic waste is managed and repurposed. Its innovative approach involves converting plastic waste into community products at the actual point of use, fundamentally reshaping the standard of care, health science innovation and sustainability.

“Because of the long-standing commitment QBE has demonstrated to improving urban resilience, this pilot project will serve as a first-of-its-kind deployment in the United States, ushering a new era of plastic recycling possibilities,” said Michael Lake, President and CEO of Leading Cities. “Shockingly and tragically, only about 9% of the world’s plastic is being recycled. Instead much of it ends up in landfills or in our oceans, where it is projected to surpass the amount of fish and takes more than 1,000 years to break down.”

Unlike conventional manufacturing and supply chains, Automedi utilizes localized 3D print vending technology to transform plastic waste into functional products, dramatically reducing CO2 emissions by up to 98%. Through its user-friendly e-commerce platform, local businesses can place made-to-order product orders, contributing to a more sustainable future while supporting the local economy.

“This collaboration with the City of Surprise presents an exciting opportunity for us to showcase our solution,” said Ethar Alali, Managing Director of Automedi. “We’re eager to partner with Surprise in this transformative journey, empowering change at the grassroots level and promoting a greener, more circular future.”

The pilot project will rotate three 3D printers in various community gathering places, such as libraries, schools and sports venues. The community will be able to print plastic products at no cost to them using plastic recyclables collected in the City.

The City understands there is an urgent need to address plastic waste issues and this pilot program has the potential to reshape waste management practices both locally and globally. Surprise is committed to pioneering sustainable solutions like this one and intends to work with its smart city consortium partner, The Connective, to share results and best practices with neighboring municipalities, and to identify opportunities to scale this initiative throughout the region.

“We’re proud to be an integral part in this groundbreaking project with the City of Surprise and Automedi,” said Dean Duncan, Managing Director, The Connective. “The Connective’s commitment to driving innovation in smart regions aligns perfectly with the mission of this initiative. Together, we’re not only transforming plastic waste management locally but also paving the way for a more sustainable future across the entire Phoenix Metropolitan Area and beyond.”

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