We’re Ready to Build a Zero-Waste World

Six ideas to reduce waste in the built environment are competing in the Circular Construction Challenge — Rethink Waste.

Six groundbreaking ideas to upcycle, recycle and reuse waste in construction have been chosen to compete in the Circular Construction Challenge, initiated by the Danish philanthropic association Realdania. Danish and international businesses, startups, organizations, waste suppliers, researchers etc. have now joined one of the 6 finalist teams.

Learn more about the six finalists and their ideas below.

Rethink Waste

We want to help build a zero-waste world. A world, where waste is perceived as a resource waiting to be reused, recycled or upcycled. Ideas using everything from plastic bottles to demolition waste are welcome.


We wish to establish innovation teams and upcoming global partnerships across the value chain and aim to co-create future solutions by strengthening each other’s ideas, competencies and resources.


We are looking for the best ideas for how to turn waste into a valuable resource. That includes products, materials or components, and new approaches that seek to rethink, redesign and reuse waste.

What is Circular
Construction Challenge?

The Circular Construction Challenge addresses the global problem of waste overload, mass consumption and continuously increasing resource use. We are calling for innovators to be part of the competition to reduce waste through the built environment. The challenge program is a one-year process altogether, if you are among the 3 winning teams.

Who can participate?
A range of Danish companies, from material pioneers and designers to engineers and architects have submitted their ideas for rethinking and reusing old materials or waste to create new solutions.

Now, anyone in the global circular ecosystem with competencies and expertise in relation to the chosen ideas can join as team member to help realize the prototype. Here, we are eager to have international experts join as well.

What is a good solution?
We are open to all ideas — no matter what stage of development they are in. As long as you — with support, new partnerships, prototyping and tests — are able to advance and scale your idea radically. A good solution also takes both sides of the value chain into consideration: what type of waste do you remove from the equation and what resource do you then add?

For full information, download the challenge call.

How can I join?
You can join the Circular Construction Challenge in two ways

#1 Submit your idea [ENDED]
If you are a Danish-based innovator with a transformative solution you can submit your idea until 8 October 2018. If you are selected as one of the six finalists, you will receive help to set a team with the competencies you need. You decide who you want on board as well as how you want to design the set-up. We provide support, advice and infrastructure.

#2 Apply as team member [ENDED]
If you are a Danish or international expert with the right competencies, a relevant position in the value chain or a new take on a finalist idea, you can apply from 1 November until 3 December 2018. As a team member, you commit to establishing a partnership around the chosen idea and contributing to developing the idea or solution further during the innovation phase in 2019.

When will it happen?

The Circular Construction Challenge will run in four phases throughout 2018-2019. We have completed the submission phase, and received ideas from 39 innovators. In the second phase, we select the 6 finalists who will then receive support to match and set the right innovation teams, and finally 3 winning teams will be chosen. Phase 3 and 4 focus on co-creating and advancing the winning solutions as well as producing and showcasing the prototypes.

Here are the most important dates and deadlines:

Phase 1

Challenge call and response

Submit idea

August 24, 2018 — Launch of challenge call & application period for innovators

At the kick-off event in BLOX, Copenhagen, we will launch the challenge call and explain the process.

Sign up for the kick-off
October 8, 2018 — Submission deadline for ideas and solutions

We will need your responses to the challenge call by 8 am.

Submit your idea
Phase 2

Selection & match

October 23, 2018 — Pitch day for the shortlisted solutions

Up to 10 shortlisted candidates will pitch their idea to the selection committee.

October 31, 2018 — Announcement of the finalists

Up to 6 finalists will be announced at the Building Green Conference in Copenhagen, where each candidate will do a lightning talk about their idea. The audience can ask questions or express their interest in joining one of the teams.

Team applications

November 1, 2018 — Application period to join as a team member opens

This is the opportunity to join the Circular Construction Challenge as a team member. Danish as well as international businesses, startups, organizations, waste suppliers, researchers etc. can apply to join one of the 6 finalist ideas.

Apply to join an idea
December 3, 2018 — Application deadline to join as a team member

We will need your application to join as team member by 12:00 [noon].

January 15, 2019 — Application deadline for the 6 teams

The 6 finalists submit their team profiles, MoUs and business plans by 12:00 [noon].

Late January — Selection of the 3 winning teams

The 3 winning teams will be announced. Exact date TBA.

Phase 3
For the winners

Innovation & co-creation
6 months innovation process, exact dates TBD

Feb 2019 — Bootcamp #1
Apr 2019 — Bootcamp #2
Jun 2019 — Bootcamp #3
Phase 4
For the winners

Dissemination & global scale

Aug-Sept 2019 — Showcasing and dissemination of prototypes

The 3 innovation teams will get the opportunity to showcase their prototypes and get access to national and international key stakeholders such as investors, buyers and organisations.

Late 2019 — Participation in relevant international events

Together, we will find the relevant international events for the 3 winning teams to participate in, to gain access to international network and potential buyers.

What can I win?

The winning teams will receive substantial, long-term development support comprised of the following:

Help setting the right team

The finalists will receive help to find team members that can help create a – a technically, aesthetically and commercially strong solution. The teams may be organized as project companies or as entrepreneurial companies, and the winners will receive individual counselling based on their projects.

Six months of charged innovation

The winners will receive exclusive access to a six-month-long charged innovation process that includes three boot camps, where – the newly established teams – use co-creation and expert guidance to take the solution to the next level. Throughout the programme, the winners will receive tailored mentoring from domain experts to support the prototyping phase, including access to labs and prototyping facilities.

Up to DKK 1,000,000 for development costs

The winners will receive up to DKK 1,000,000 (€130,000) to support the development of a physical prototype. The financial support will cover expenses for materials, purchase of data, travel costs and working hours.

Extended network and partnerships

The Circular Construction Challenge is also an opportunity for the participating businesses and organizations to connect with national and international networks, to get access to new partnerships throughout the value chain and to get solid PR and branding. Winners will have access to dialogue and feedback sessions with a panel of potential buyers and investors for the new solutions.

Why the Circular
Construction Challenge?

Due to the continuously growing population and global urbanization, the building industry is among the fastest-growing industries in the world. Waste from construction and demolition is one of the biggest waste streams in the world. Globally, 1.3 billion tons of solid waste is produced every year. Building material accounts for half of the solid waste generated every year worldwide, according to The World Bank. These numbers speak for themselves, but also call for action.

The Circular Construction Challenge taps into several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by supporting new solutions for a world without waste. A zero-waste world in which all waste goes into a circular system as a resource that helps build capital rather than reduce it.

1.3 billion tons

solid waste produced globally every year

€6 billion

is what Denmark could gain annually by going circular


of the world's CO2 emissions come from the building industry


of the Danish resource use is spent by the construction sector

2.2 billion tons

is the expected production of solid waste annually by 2025

4.3 billion

is the number of urban residents in the world by 2025

518 kg

is how much trash every person will generate yearly in 2015, according to The World Bank

1.8 tons

was the average waste generation per EU-citizen in 2014

11.3 million tons

waste was produced in Denmark in 2015

of all waste generated in Europe
derives from the building industry

1.3 billion tons

solid waste produced globally every year

€6 billion

is what Denmark could gain annually by going circular


of the world's CO2 emissions come from the building industry


of the Danish resource use is spent by the construction sector

2.2 billion tons

is the expected production of solid waste annually by 2025

4.3 billion

is the number of urban residents in the world by 2025

518 kg

is how much trash every person will generate yearly in 2015, according to The World Bank

1.8 tons

was the average waste generation per EU-citizen in 2014

11.3 million tons

waste was produced in Denmark in 2015

of all waste generated in Europe
derives from the building industry

Selection criteria

Your submitted ideas and solutions will be assessed by our expert selection committee and judged according to the following criteria. Please see the list of questions under each criteria for inspiration. Your answer to these questions will be taken into consideration, when the panel evaluate your proposal and the 6 finalists for the Circular Construction Challenge are chosen. The 3 winning teams will be selected in January 2019 according to these criteria as well as their budget, business plan and MoU.


What makes the solution circular?
— Which type of waste does the solution reduce?
— How large is the waste fraction that you reduce?
— How much can you reduce this fraction? How big is the upcycled part?
— Why is this type of waste fraction particularly important to reduce?
— How big is the potential improvement offered by your solution?
— How big is the CO2-reduction of your solution compared to a conventional approach?


What is the visionary aim of the solution?
— What makes the solution new or even radical?
— How does the solution differentiate from other solutions on the market?

Value creation

What value do you create for the user, the planet and society as a whole?
— Who are the primary customers and users?
— What is the target market for the solution, for example geographically?
— What is the business model for the solution, and what makes it circular?
— What social, economic and environmental gains does the solution achieve?
— Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does the solution address?


What is the market potential of the solution?
— How big a market does the new solution appeal to?
— What does it take for the solution to reach the market and scale?
— How can new technologies help speed up the production or scale the solution?


Who is contributing to the solution?
— How does the solution involve the different parts of the value chain? And how does the solution include the value chain in order to optimize its own potential?
— What partnerships are built around the solution, if any yet?

Selection committee

Our distinguished Selection Committee is comprised of leading Danish and international experts within circular economy, innovation, waste minimization and construction.

Ann Rosenberg

Senior Vice President & Global Head of SAP Next-Gen

Ann Rosenberg leads SAP Next-Gen, a purpose-driven innovation university and community aligned with SAP’s commitment to the 17 UN Global Goals for sustainable development. Ann is the global lead for #sheinnovates in collaboration with UN Women. She was voted top 20 blockchain female influencers in 2017.

Ken Webster

Head of Innovation for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Foundation’s aim is to accelerate the transition from a linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economy to a circular economy. Ken is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter. UK.

Frido Kraanen

Principal Director Societal Impact, PGGM

PGGM is a Dutch pension service provider, working for multiple pension funds, with €220 bln AUM and working for 3 million participants. Frido is responsible for the PGGM’s cooperative principles, their societal agenda and corporate sustainability program.

Christina Lindbäck

Senior Vice President of Corporate Sustainability for the NCC Group

Christina is managing the strategic work with sustainability issues with in the NCC Group. She is also the Chairperson of the Board of the Swedish Company Miljömärkning Sverige AB and a member of the Board of Axfoundation.

Christian Bason

CEO, Danish Design Centre

Christian sets the strategic direction for the Design Centre and governs the demanding initiatives and activities. Christian is also CEO of Design Society and a member of the board for the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK) and The Rockwool Foundation’s Research Programme Committee.

Toke Falk Sabroe

Partner in Leaderlab

Toke has for nearly 20 years been involved in international cross-sector innovation projects - within both technical and creative areas. Toke Sabroe is among others co-initiator of the global LAUNCH Circular platform, and the Sustainable Build partnership.

Steen Michael Asgreen

Senior Relationship and Network Manager, The Danish Growth Fund

Steen is also Partner at the board network BoardPartner and Co-founder in the startup company Bilbrokeren.dk. He is a member at advisory boards at Connect Denmark and the RealDania program – Innovation to market.

Lisbeth Chawes

Tech Leader, Speaker & Entrepreneur

Lisbeth is a Danish tech leader with over 15 years of experience from management positions and startup companies within the tech industry. She is among the top fifty high-profile women in the Nordics. Award-winning leader, Board Member, Speaker & Mentor.

Antonis Mavropoulos

Founder and CEO of D-Waste and President of ISWA

Antonis has been involved in solid waste management projects for 20 years. His recent research deals with the fourth industrial revolution and the transformation of the waste & resources sector. He has invented the Waste Atlas, a global interactive waste management map in cooperation with GIZ SWEEPNET, ISWA, WTERT, SWAPI and Leeds University.