Researchers unveil a simplified plastic recycling system for UK households

The ‘One Bin to Rule Them All’ project has launched a report of its research which takes a comprehensive approach to tackle the issue of plastic recycling, particularly household waste.

By simplifying plastic recycling for households and introducing advanced sorting strategies, the project aims to improve the value of plastic waste for the industry while minimising its environmental impact.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Grant on Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging, and supported by Ecosurety, the interdisciplinary project has over three years, worked with industry, policy, and households to better understand the complexities of the plastics supply chain.

The timing of this research is crucial as plastic waste continues to be a major problem in the UK. With various policies being rolled out to address the issue, the One Bin report raises the question of whether these policies are sufficient.

Simplifying plastic recycling

To address this, the researchers have developed a One Bin system that is supported by an open-source hierarchy of fates for end-of-life plastics, integrated with a micro-level understanding of household practices. The report provides policymakers and industry leaders with a roadmap to standardise and simplify plastic recycling, with the ultimate goal of minimising its environmental impact and achieving a more sustainable future for all.

Commenting on behalf of the project's steering board, Ecosurety Innovation and Policy director, Robbie Staniforth, said: "We are pleased to support the timely release of this report. It shows that greater standardisation and consistency of recycling systems will reduce plastic waste.

"This call for a more holistic approach comes in response to the over-complicated systems that are being introduced to govern plastic-use. Waste policies need more unification and simplification if they are to achieve the Government's laudable objectives of increasing recycling and reuse."

The report highlights three best practice goals that demonstrate where policy and investment can tackle the challenge of plastic waste. These are:

Better understanding of consumer practice 

The report calls for a more comprehensive understanding of how households dispose of plastic waste. This would enable the development of more targeted interventions that encourage better recycling practices.

Standardisation and consistency across the supply chain

The report emphasises the need for greater consistency in plastic recycling processes across the supply chain. Standardisation would help to ensure that plastic waste is sorted and recycled effectively.

Maximising value and sustainability of plastic materials

The report advocates for the use of an open-source hierarchy of fates for end-of-life plastics, which prioritises the most sustainable and valuable outcomes for plastic waste. By doing so, the project hopes to maximise the value of plastic materials and minimise the environmental impact of plastic waste.

Read the full report here

Written by Mma-tshepo Grobler Published 28/03/2023 Topics Sustainability
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