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Re-X Before Recycling Prize

The Re-X Before Recycling Prize will award up to $5.6 million in federal funding and technical assistance from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories. The prize is designed to stimulate innovation and private investment in circular economy approaches that can transform waste streams into diverse, integrated circular supply networks and contribute to a robust, environmentally sustainable economy.

The prize is seeking innovations to unlock new or expanded supply chains that can reintegrate end-of-use products into the economy via re-use, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, and/or repurposing (“Re-X”).

Prize Overview

Today, the U.S. manufacturing sector predominantly follows a linear model of production in which raw materials are mined, transformed into manufactured goods, used, and discarded. To fully decarbonize the U.S. economy, the country must create new, circular supply chains to keep materials in use beyond a single life cycle. And while recycling plays an important role in this circular economy, approaches that extend the lifetimes of goods could save more energy and emissions over time than recycling alone.

That’s why DOE’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office launched the three-phase Re-X Before Recycling Prize. The prize is looking for innovations that could keep materials in use beyond a single life cycle and increase the recovery and reuse rate of end-of-use products. Extending the lifecycles of these products reduces the embodied energy and carbon of manufactured goods, strengthens regional manufacturing supply chains, increases U.S. security of supply, create jobs, and reduces environmental burdens related to landfilling, incineration, and extraction.

Circular supply chains are complex with diverse value propositions, in part because end-of-use product stream compositions vary by region and over time. The prize is designed to support competitors to overcome these difficulties and help the country transition from a linear to a more circular economy, region by region.

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Topic Areas

The Re-X Before Recycling Prize invites competitors to work on one of two categories: established or emerging waste streams. Learn more about the types of innovations of interest to the Re-X Before Recycling Prize in the official prize rules.

timeline of Re-X Before Recycling Prize

Prize Structure

The Re-X Before Recycling Prize has three phases that will run from 2023 to 2025. During Phase 1, also called Identify!, competitors will identify new or expanded circular supply chain opportunities and the innovations needed to realize them and deliver community benefits. During Phase 2, called Prepare!, competitors will prepare to develop their innovation. During the final Phase 3, Develop!, competitors will continue to advance their idea toward implementation.

Phase 1: Identify!

In Phase 1, teams will identify a new or expanded Re-X supply chain opportunity including its potential community benefits and create a plan. Up to 20 winners will receive $50,000 in cash. Winners will also receive consulting support from a national laboratory (worth up to $5,000) to identify analysis that could help maximize their idea’s potential impact and benefits.

To win Phase 1, teams will achieve the following:

  • Opportunity & Innovation Identification: Identify an innovation that, if implemented in a new or expanded Re-X supply chain, would deliver substantial environmental, economic, and community benefits.
  • Plan development: Develop a plan to advance the innovation from its current state towards implementation in a viable Re-X supply chain.

Phase 2: Prepare!

In Phase 2, which is open to new competitors, as well as participants from Phase 1, teams will further advance their idea and plan. Up to 10 winners will receive $150,000 in cash and up to $100,000 in technical assistance for analysis from a national laboratory that could inform enhancements to increase the idea’s impacts and benefits.

To win Phase 2, teams will achieve the following:

  • Deepen Insight: Leverage national laboratory expert analysis, consultation, and other resources to deepen insight into environmental, economic, and community benefits of the innovation, plan, and Re-X supply chain.
  • Plan Refinement: Based on progress made and insights gained, refine your plan to advance your innovation towards implementation in a supply chain.
  • Network Activation: Cultivate a network of mentors and partners to help advance the proposed innovation and understand how to increase the potential positive impacts on communities.

Phase 3: Develop!

Phase 3 is only open to selected winners from Phase 2. Phase 3 winners will demonstrate substantial progress towards implementing their innovation in a viable Re-X supply chain that will continue beyond the prize period. Up to four winning teams will receive $500,000 in cash.

To win Phase 3, teams will achieve the following:

  • Plan Execution: Demonstrate that you are advancing your innovation by executing your plan.
  • Network Development and Community Engagement: Cement ecosystem partnerships through community engagement to ensure you can implement your supply chain innovation.
  • Post-Contest Planning: Develop a long-term plan to implement your innovation in a viable Re-X supply chain and provide a compelling case that there is, or will soon be, sufficient resources to keep the effort going beyond this prize contest. Incorporate insights gained from analysis performed a national lab to improve your innovation and maximize benefits from realizing the supply chain.

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