As a Ph.D. at Stanford University, Molly Morse came up with an innovative way to make biodegradable plastic. She felt like she had a world-changing idea, but needed the funding to make the idea a reality.
She just got a big boost to making that happen.
As part of the Clinton Initiative in New York on Sept. 23, Molly Morse and her company Mango Materials took home the 2012 Postcode Lottery's Green Challenge, beating out more than 500 entries of projects aiming to reduce C02 emissions entered in the world's largest environmental innovation prize. Thanks to the Postcode Lottery, Morse now has $630,000 to do help rid the world of petroleum based plastic.
Her process utilizes bacteria to turn methane into a biodegradable plastic, a material that can be used for almost anything made of plastic, which in today's world is almost anything. After use, Morse's plastic offers a better alternative to petroleum based plastic, because it can be sent to a landfill or digester and and turned back into biodegradable plastic without adding any CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
"Thanks to this generous prize, soon consumers will be able to buy goods from biodegradable plastic at an affordable price," Morse said at the event. "And that's going to be so much better for the environment. Our bioplastic is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic, which piles up in nature and garbage dumps."
Two runners-up Dan Weddepohl of Peerbyand Nick Garritsen of CarbonScape also received prizes of $128,520 a piece for their ideas.
CarbonScape uses fast, efficient microwave technology to transform waste biomass, such as timber residue, into high-grede materials that replace carbon. One such innovation Weddepohl has created is a new greener type of steel, which, if utiized on a large scale, has the potential to decrease CO2 emissions by 2.5 percent.
Peerby, Garritsen's idea, is a product sharing app. His app and website allow consumers to rent goods to nearby people utilizing smartphones and Facebook, connecting people and helping to negotiate deals.
These three ideas represent a slew of startups being pushed forward by the the Postcode Lottery, an innovative lottery program that funds ideas that make the world a better place.
The Postcode Lottery: Where Proceeds Go to Help Make the World a Better Place
For more than two decades, the Dutch have been running the Postcode lottery, which supports charities in the Netherlands and abroad. Since its launch in 1989, it has grown to become the third largest charitable organization worldwide.
The way it works, 50 percent of each 2 euro ticket sold, goes to fund charities, which adds up to billions of dollars for 253 charities worldwide working on everything from Brad Pitt's Make it Right Foundation, which builds green in New Orleans and elsewhere, to programs that fund health and research, support of children, the environment and cultural issues. The organizers say it is an alternative to a tax encouraging citizens to engage in civic behavior.
In 2011, lotteries in the United States brought in $56 billion - 25 percent, or about $14 billion, went back to the states for government services such as education and senior programs, 60 percent goes to prize winners and 15 percent to retailers. The Dutch Postcode Lottery sets itself apart by funding individual entrepreneurs.
"We like encouraging people to take matters into their own hand and create a better world and we also like to encourage entrepreneurship," Marieke Van Schaik managing director of the Dutch Postcode Lottery told ABC News. "I think it's wonderful that we can help, and can inspire other people to do something like this."
Taking the Postcode Lotto Global
The Dutch aren't stopping in the Netherlands; recently they have established lotteries in Sweden and Great Britain. With a new initiative to establish Postcode Lotteries in as many countries as possible, the aim is to help as many innovators and charitable organizations as they can make the world a little bit better through a lotto ticket.
"The Postcode Lottery is the best thing I have ever seen to involve ordinary people in charitable work. A whole community can win and it must be a great feeling to be a part of it," said President Bill Clinton, an international ambassador for the Postcode Lotteries.