2019 Rolex Awards Laureate

Miranda Wang

If 25 year-old Canadian entrepreneur Miranda Wang fulfils her goal, a third of the world’s plastic waste – which now chokes landfills, rivers and oceans – could be converted into new wealth.

Her company BioCellection is developing an array of unique technologies to turn the worst of the world’s plastic wastes into valuable industrial chemicals used in the making of familiar products like cars, electronic goods, textiles and cleaning agents.

“We're taking plastics that are not recyclable today – things like dirty plastic bags or single-use packaging materials – and we transform them into valuable chemicals which can then be used to make durable materials for products that we all love and use every day.”

Globally, only 9 per cent of all the plastics we produce every year is being recycled.

Miranda Wang

Plastic waste has been piling up in municipal disposal centres in the United States at a rate of 30,000 tonnes every month since China banned imports in 2018: today less than one tenth of all plastic is recycled.

Determined, as a teenage student, to solve the global waste challenge, Wang founded BioCellection in Silicon Valley to pioneer fresh answers to the emerging global plastics crisis. She has since developed technologies to transform soiled, contaminated and unrecyclable plastics like polyethylene (PE) into renewable, quality chemicals with a high market value.

Wang now plans to develop a fully-commercial processing plant and recycle 45,500 tonnes of plastic waste by 2023, so eliminating 320,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions, producing useful products from substances that society would otherwise throw away, to the detriment of the planet.