Plastic waste has become ubiquitous. We need new solutions for the design, production and use of plastics, as well as for the collection, sorting and recycling of plastic waste and sustainable alternatives to fossil-based plastics.

This challenge will reward the most innovative approaches to reducing plastic waste and improving re-use and recycling at a systemic level.

Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are generated each year. In the EU, 27.1 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic were collected in 2016. The European Strategy for Plastics aims at addressing the plastic waste challenge through measures such as ensuring that all plastic packaging is recyclable or reusable by 2030. Successfully tackling plastic waste requires a systemic approach, including a rethink of supply chains,  re-design of materials and products, new uses for plastic waste and recycled plastics, or changing consumer and business habits. The international push for action on plastic waste and the heavy integration of plastics into almost all walks of modern life are significant motivations for fresh thinking around social and scalable solutions to addressing plastic waste.

Sub-Themes

    Reducing the consumption of single use plastic products

    Single-use plastic is responsible for large amounts of plastic waste. We need to produce more sustainable alternatives and encourage consumers to choose these.

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    Recycling, reusing, and upcycling existing plastic waste

    Finding new uses for existing plastic is a great way of reducing the level of plastic waste. We need to ensure all plastic is either reusable, recycled or upcycled into something else.

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    Dealing with accumulated plastic waste in landfills and the environment

    Unfortunately there is already a huge amount of plastic waste in existence that isn’t going anywhere. We need new ideas and techniques for doing something useful with this.

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    Changing consumer behaviours, as well as retail and wider business practices to reduce levels of plastic waste or increase recycling and re-use

    Our lives and businesses involve producing unsustainable amounts of plastic waste. We need to incentivise and enable this to change.

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    Implementing alternative business models and optimising supply chains to reduce plastic waste or increase recycling and re-use

    Many businesses were designed without factoring in sustainability, which has led to high levels of plastic waste. We need fresh approaches.

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    Introducing new materials fit for a circular economy or that offer sustainable alternatives to fossil-based plastics

    Many products that are made from plastic simply no longer need to be. We need new materials that are more sustainable to take the place of plastic.

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