'EMA IMPACT Summit' Returns To Reward Sustainable Innovation

The new event highlights an innovator challenge that awards the winning startup with a $50,000 grant and various guest speakers promote sustainable solutions.


May 15 2019, Updated 4:15 p.m. ET

The Environmental Media Association has been the voice of the planet for 28 years. They’ve emphasized their movement through celebrity voices, social media, educational programs, and multiple annual events. One of those is the EMA IMPACT Summit, where they award the best innovator working to solve an environmental issue with a $50,000 grant.

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Kicked off just one year ago, the two-day event in Los Angeles brings numerous celebrities and business leaders together to explain how beneficial it can be for companies to protect the environment. At the same time, their “Future Innovator of the Year Challenge” highlights entrepreneurs that are focused on making a sustainable difference.

“For nearly two decades, we’ve been working within the corporate world as well to message the innovations and marketability of energy efficient, organic, nontoxic and lower waste options for the general population,” said Debbie Levin, President and CEO of EMA. “Innovation and market impact is what will bring us to the sustainable economy that will inform these next generations.”

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Over 500 applicants are expected for this year’s challenge, but six of them will be promoted at the event. A panel will decide which project receives a $50,000 grant and will be mentored by EMA’s Senior Impact Advisory Board. Key factors looked at are quality, realistic execution, and the scale of the project.

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Last year’s winner was Thread International, a company that, at the time, recycled nearly 30 million plastic bottles from Haiti and Honduras into various bags and clothing attire. They’ve supplied over 3,800 jobs, including bottle collectors, collection center staff, and truck drivers. The company even pays double the average minimum wage in the community. They plan to expand in Asia and the United States.

A large roster of guest speakers continues to grow for the next EMA IMPACT Summit. John Paul DeJoria, the Co-Founder and Chairman of the John Paul Mitchell System, will be returning along with Doug Coleman, Head of Mobility Services at Toyota North America. Actor and co-founder of JUST Water, Jaden Smith, CNN contributor Van Jones, Billions star Malin Akerman, and actress Emmanuelle Chriqui are just a handful of the celebrities making a return appearance from last year. A couple of celebrities new to IMPACT this year are Rosario Dawson and Shailene Woodley, both actors and activists.

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Business leaders like Mike Hart, CEO of Sierra Energy, will also return. At last year’s event, he detailed how much money was being thrown away by companies not pursuing recycling opportunities. His company developed a way to convert garbage into renewable diesel that was “20 times cleaner than the ultra-low sulfur diesel standards in California.”

EMA IMPACT Summit 2018 will take place on May 21st and 22nd at Montage Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California. It’s the only LEED Certified Five Diamond hotel in the city. Those interested in applying for the innovator challenge can still do so by April 20th.

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