Cisco Innovation Challenge: Construct Masters helps River Cleanup take top prize

During the fourth edition of the Cisco Belux Innovation Challenge, River Cleanup was named the grand winner. The non-profit organisation convinced the jury with the EcoTwin, a container to collect plastic bottles for recycling. The EcoBin, the basic model of the EcoTwin, was made by Construct Masters, our division specialising in welding and construction works. Multi Masters Group has now been one of River Cleanup’s structural partners for over 4 years.

Thomas De Groote (left) and Arno Doggen of River Cleanup pose in front of the EcoBin.

Cisco Innovation Challenge 2023: IoT, Mobility & Smart Building

Cisco Belux specialises in manufacturing (network) hardware and certification processes for networks and related technologies. The American company organises an annual Innovation Challenge, this year with the theme ‘IoT, Mobility & Smart Building’.

During the three-day Challenge, participants first spend two days working on a solution to a specific problem under the guidance of Cisco coaches. River Cleanup participated with the aim of improving and digitising plastic collection. On the third day, the worked-out solutions are presented to a jury, which then announces the winner.

Recycling plastic

River Cleanup eventually won the top prize. “Every year, 11 billion kilograms of plastic end up in our oceans,” says Thomas De Groote, founder of River Cleanup, on Cisco’s website. “We tackle that problem through our litter campaigns, but we also want to encourage people to recycle as much plastic as possible. If we can convince people to recycle more plastic, less plastic will automatically end up in the rivers and oceans.” So that is why EcoBins were designed.

Cisco Belux Innovation Challenge 2023 - River Cleanup wins with the EcoTwin.

And so we come to the contribution of Multi Masters Group and Construct Masters. “Nicolas de Schutter, chairman of Multi Masters Group, supports the project and Construct Masters, as a partner for the EcoBin – and earlier the River Skimmer – created the first design. The very first EcoBin was made in our workshop in Stekene in just 1 week,” says Construct Masters manager Steven Lozie.

EcoTwin wins Cisco Innovation Challenge 2023

River Cleanup was awarded first prize in the Cisco Innovation Challenge 2023 with the so-called EcoTwin, the digital brother of the EcoBin. It was equipped with a sensor that registers the extent to which the container is filled. The follow-up can therefore be optimised. The trucks only have to drive to the (almost) fully filled EcoBins and do so according to the ideal route. So, thanks to this innovation, not only are many more plastic bottles recycled, collection is also made considerably greener.

Construct Masters welding welder

3 workshops for further development

However, this does not end the innovation journey for River Cleanup. As a prize, the winner of the Cisco Innovation Challenge will receive three workshops under the guidance of Cisco coaches. During those meetings, the EcoTwin will be further optimised. “We will now scrutinise this first model to see how we can improve it,” confirms Steven Lozie.

The ultimate aim is to mass produce the EcoTwin. Through placement at companies and municipalities, this will create a network of plastic bottle collection points. That way, we will all ensure that much fewer plastic ends up in our rivers and oceans.

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