Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose: Launch

Read your Challenge Statement and watch your Challenge Champion’s Set the Stage video. Be sure you have a clear understanding of the problem.

Then do some research to identify and understand the users – the people or organizations who need a good solution to this problem. What do users need in a solution? Why? What’s wrong with the solutions they have now?

Setting the Stage with Your Challenge Champion

Challenge Champion Brandi Harleaux explains your challenge.

Challenge Scenario

In 2018, U.S. households generated over approximately 12.4 million school buses (146 million tons) worth of household solid waste.* The overwhelming majority of this waste ends up in one of over 2,000 designated landfills across the country. Landfill sites require a large amount of land and are typically located outside of more densely populated and built cities. As a consequence, large areas of natural habitat are destroyed and will continue to be destroyed to accommodate the increasing amount of waste that will be generated in the U.S. In fact, some communities have already run out of space and are shipping their waste to other communities, either out of state or out of the country.

Additionally, as the waste degrades in a landfill, it creates toxic byproducts that negatively impact local air, water, and soil quality. Of particular concern are the greenhouse gases and chemical irritants that contribute to climate change and poor health outcomes for communities. 

One way to reduce the need for landfills and minimize their environmental impact, is for individuals and communities to decrease the amount of waste they send to the landfill. In this Challenge, you will leverage your STEM knowledge and ingenuity to turn waste destined for the landfill into a socially responsible and sustainable product. By completing this challenge, you’ll be doing your part in moving your community, country and planet towards reaching the Zero Waste goal.

Challenge Statement

Entrepreneurs are exploring ways to use waste destined for the landfill to build new products. Your challenge is to create a product for a target customer using existing waste items in a different way from their original purpose.

Your solution should:

  1. Use waste. Use materials sourced from this list of potential waste items.
  2. Minimize environmental impact. Describe the amount of waste material used in your product. Your product should have a neutral or net positive environmental impact. 
  3. Include models of the product. 
    1. Create a composite figure with slices from the original objects or parts of objects.
    2. Create a 3D model using a digital tool or recycled paper.
    3. Create scaled 2D diagrams using the 3D model from multiple perspectives (top, side, bottom) and describe all relevant specifications of your product.


Meet the Challenge Champion

Watch this video to learn background about Challenge Champion Brandi Harleaux’s life and career pathway.

Think About It


After looking at the list of waste items, what ideas do you have for your solution?

What information do you need to create a viable solution for your target consumers?