Plastic has become one of the most versatile materials in today’s society. The use of plastic packaging can be associated to the growth of international trade flows and a globalized economy. World plastic production reached 348 million tonnes in 2017 (Plastic Europe, 2018), with solely European plastic production at around 64.4 million tonnes, about 20% share of the global plastic production. It is estimated that around 8.5 million tonnes of plastics were collected for recycling in Europe (Eurostat, 2018), however, recycled plastic demand in Europe is still weak, accounting for about 6% of the total demand for plastics (EC, 2018). The scale of plastic production, together with its applications and, primarily, its end of life management, have aggravated problems of plastic waste leakage to the environment.
Numerous channels have raised awareness among citizens, policy-makers and industry about the need to move towards more circular plastic systems of production and consumption. The striking fact that by 2050 there could be more plastics than fish in the ocean (EMF, 2016), has helped to leverage action to prevent future waste pollution. A number of policy and industry driven initiatives have introduced very significant changes to the plastic sector, with an emphasis on developing secondary markets and reduce environmental leakage. However, options to replace plastics or to use plastic in more circular pathways are not always easy to evaluate by companies.
As part of the UCL Plastic Innovation Hub, a 1.5h workshop aimed at large and SMEs has been designed to provide you with a better understanding and suitable tools to facilitate discussion about possible pathways of circular use of plastics and alternative materials.
The workshop would cover the following points:
- Overview of plastic flows in Europe
- Understanding plastics in your product and services
- Identifying potential areas of minimization or more circular utilization of plastics
- Understanding trade-off between materials
- Tools to inform your decision making process and understanding systemic implications of current and future use of plastics
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