About 50 types of plastic exist, with PET, HDPE and PVC as the most common ones. Almost all types of plastic are recyclable. LKM.org.uk reveals that the ‘primary aim of recycling is to elicit a net environmental benefit through reducing the use of primary resources as well as diverting resources from landfill’.
But there are various factors that companies should consider when it comes to waste management: economic, technical and logistics.
The British Plastics Federation shares that the UK uses more than five million tonnes of plastic every year, however, they only recover and recycle 29% of these. Recently, a recycling body in the UK listed products that make recycling a bit more difficult than it should be.
The Packaging and the Recycling Process
The Recycling Association named several brands for having bad packaging. According to the organisation, the quantity of materials used for the packaging makes recycling harder as machines have to separate each material.
The number one offender is the cylindrical packaging used of a popular snack. The snack’s packaging features a foil-lined cardboard sleeve, plastic cap, metal tear-off lid and base. Meanwhile, the packaging of a sports drink uses plastics that are tricky for scanners, forcing facilities to sort materials by hand.
Other ‘villains’ of recycling machines are cleaning spray bottles, black plastic food trays and whisky packaging.
The Move to Redesign Plastic Packaging
The CEO of the UK Recycling Association, Simon Ellin, remarks that there is a desperate need for innovation and improvements in product design.
Because of this, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit, launched a $2m (£1.5m) Innovation Prize. The organisations are inviting inventors to come up with new, sustainable ways to make plastic packaging reusable.
The innovation challenge comes in two parts: The $1m Circular Design Challenge, which focuses on avoiding plastic waste, and the $1m Circular Materials Challenge, which looks for ways to make plastic packaging recyclable.
Plastic materials are recyclable. But businesses need to make certain considerations to ease the recycling process. With initiatives from organisations and the use of new technology, businesses may rethink their plastic packaging and produce sustainable design that could reduce landfill volume in the future.