Even though Mexico recycles a large percentage of PET bottles, recycling is still an uncommon practice in Mexico City. Sure, schools teach children the difference between organic and inorganic waste. However, few households recycle their waste. Photograph: Carl Campbell/Flickr
Even though Mexico recycles a large percentage of PET bottles, recycling is still an uncommon practice in Mexico City. Sure, schools teach children the difference between organic and inorganic waste. However, few households recycle their waste. Photograph: Carl Campbell/Flickr

It is not every day that Finland shares any type of link with Mexico. You can then imagine my surprise to learn that a Finnish initiative had made it all the way to my overly populated home country. In June, a competition called Reto CDMX was held where the challenge was to come up with IT solutions to tackle urban mobility and solid waste management, a couple of key areas that could see improvement in Mexico City.

Mexico City is known as one of the most polluted cities in the world—it is common to spend hours in traffic before making it home after work every day; in very polluted, Mexico-traffic.

Travel by an electric scooter made from recycled plastic is a shift toward right direction to reduce pollution. That’s what the winning team of the urban mobility challenge presented. It’s called E-Plastic Ride Delivery, designed for delivering goods.

A team called Boomerang won the circular economy challenge with reusable containers for food delivery that eliminates the use of disposable containers. Each team was awarded 100,000 Mexican pesos (around €4000). Other four teams were awarded electric bikes.

One of the organizers of the contest was a Finnish company called Ultrahack. It was its first collaboration with a Latin American country. Despite Covid-19, the initiative received more than 260 solutions, most of them from Mexican teams, although a few Finnish teams participated as well.

The finalist teams attended an online awards ceremony, where the most innovative solutions were announced. “It has been a revealing experience, organizing a global innovation competition in a virtual way,” said Juhani Kivikangas, the chairman of the board at Ultrahack. “We have spent an intense week with the 20 finalist teams, which has now culminated in 48 hours. We have worked day and night.”

This initiative will hopefully inspire other creatives to come up with solutions that aim to improve the country. I believe there is still a lot to learn from Finland and other European nations regarding environmental practices, however, this first step comes as a ray of hope for Mexico’s deeply polluted skies.

Reto CDMX was held in partnership between the government of Mexico City, the Embassy of Finland in Mexico and a Finnish company called Ultrahack, among other partners.