This research project identifies the strategies to enable waste prevention in the current plastic packaging industry, while assessing whether a more transparent information flow can contribute to it.
EIT Climate KIC, eCircular flagship program
TU Delft, TU Berlin, Wuppertal Institut, Circularise, Cyclic Design
April 2019 – December 2019
Plastic packaging remains one of the most challenging types of waste to tackle because of the diversity of the materials’ types used in the production and the material’s low value. The prevention strategies, meaning to bring less packaging on the market, are still rarely explored. There is a need to understand the most favorable business scenarios enabling the prevention of waste in the current plastic packaging industry.
To gather data from industry, we carried out face to face interviews with selected industry partners. To gather additional data, we participated in the biggest plastic packaging trade show in the world, the K-Messe. In parallel, we distributed the work in 5 work packages, each led by a responsible partner.
After legislative analysis, technical and economic barriers and enablers for the implementation of business model which enable the prevention of plastic waste, we identified the following approaches:
New recycling technologies
Plastic recycling is becoming an ever increasing attractive strategy. Since the demand for good quality recycled material is increasing, new recycling technologies are being introduced, like chemical recycling, for example.
Producers started offering alternative materials to virgin plastics. Bioplastics are on top of the list. Adding a percentage of post-consumer or post-industrial (recycled) plastic to the material mix is also a diffused strategy.
Redesign of the packaging
The last approach is to redesign the packaging with the end-of-life in mind. Two strategies enable prevention of waste: design for reuse and design for recycling. In the case of design for reuse, the objective is to bring a multi-usable product on the market, which preferably has to be made of durable materials. The strategy focuses on product as a service and development of product loyalty. Design for recycling addressed the pressure for industry to meet higher recycling rates.