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Tyndall Manchester

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New paper published on the future of UK plastics recycling

9 October 2020

The paper contends that the use of plastics and even the existence of this versatile material, has been increasingly demonised in the UK.

Public campaigns exist to expand use of recyclable cups and to eliminate plastic straws. Retailers supplying 80% of the market are now members of the UK Plastics Pact, with goals to ensure that products are designed to be recycled, that recycling takes place, and that more recyclate is used in new products.

Public awareness has not translated into action, as domestic collection rates for discarded plastics remain pitifully low. This research started with a systems-wide vision that these rates can only be increased if all household plastic recycling is made easy and consistent christened 'One Bin to Rule Them All' - and used this premise as a starting point to examine the implications of a fully mixed plastics waste stream entering the supply chain. An agenda for future research was developed through 25 interviews with senior industrial and commercial management and a cross-sector workshop.

multicoloured recycling bins

Creating a harmonised national solution to plastic waste sorting is critically dependent on maintaining value in discarded plastics. This in turn reduces plastic leakage into the environment. Enabling this value-based scenario in the UK would form a best-practice model for other regions.

The paper argues that rapid progress is required in standardisation, development of cross-supply chain business models, and creation of higher value recyclate. 

Read the full paper at the link below: 

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