Rethink how we protect marine conservation and cultural areas from plastic pollution.


The series of short-courses is complete and teams are now conducting research through April. The 2-Day Challenge is June 7-8, 2021. Check out the blog and social media for stories and updates!

The Scripps-Rady Ocean Plastic Pollution Challenge is a unique 6-month accelerator program focused on identifying effective, evidence-based approaches that will curb the flow of plastic into the ocean, with a specific focus on marine conservation and marine cultural preservation areas along California’s coast. The program runs January - June, 2021, and participants will engage in a series of virtual short courses, team-based research, and a final two-day challenge to pitch solutions.

The Scripps-Rady Ocean Plastic Pollution Challenge is a partnership between the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Center for Social Innovation and Impact (CSII) at the Rady School of Management, UC San Diego.

We are working towards systemic solutions that end the plastics problem, not just clean up the problem that exists today. This requires a focus on upstream solutions to reduce plastic production and reduce the generation of plastic waste. This program is bringing together multidisciplinary expertise that will build a systems perspective of the plastic pollution problem, and spark innovative and thoughtful ideas and strategies.

Challenge components
The Scripps-Rady Ocean Plastic Pollution Challenge will emphasize the application of several strategies to address gaps in finding effective solutions, such as changing human behavior, evaluating solutions, and data mapping. This multi-stage program provides skills in solving complex problems, space for participants to build a systems perspective of the plastic pollution problem, and interdisciplinary teams to develop new strategies. There are three main components to the program: short courses; team research; and a two-day challenge.

Short courses

January - February, 2021

Participants engage in a series of six short courses (virtual, 1.5 hours each) led by experts in the fields of natural science, behavioral science, economics, policy, social entrepreneurship, and more.

Short courses and moderators are listed in the FAQs below!

Team research

March - May, 2021

Participants will form teams (virtual) and be supported by UC San Diego and other mentors while they investigate research questions to apply to the plastics problem in California.

Following an expert review, teams will present (virtual) their new findings to all participants to inspire new ways of thinking about solutions.


June 7 - 8, 2021

The grand event is a 2-day challenge! Participants will be placed into teams to develop innovative solutions to minimize plastic from entering the ocean and polluting specific sites within California’s marine conservation areas and marine cultural preservation areas.

Teams will pitch their ideas and proposals to an expert panel.