Published March 21, 2023 | Version v1
Report Open

Tackling Household Plastic Waste: Best Practice for a Circular Plastics Economy

  • 1. University of Manchester


Improving plastic waste management is a core policy issue. Waste prevention should always be a priority, with reduction and reuse taking precedence over recycling (Keep Britain Tidy, 2023). Nevertheless, recycling remains a policy priority to prevent plastic release into the environment. Yet current policy remains fragmented and siloed with a lack of consistency, standardisation and rationalisation.

We deliver this report at a crucial point in UK plastic policy with the introduction of the plastic packaging tax in 2022, both extended producer responsibility (pEPR) and Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) set to roll out over the next two years, alongside work to improve consistency in collections and a proposed ban on the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries by 2027. Whilst the introduction and effort of such policies is welcome, whether they are sufficient to deal with the scale of the challenge remains questionable.

As a redress, this report details the necessary policy solutions to tackle the complexity of the current plastics recycling system and to enable the UK to transition to a circular economy of plastic waste. Drawing on our extensive, interdisciplinary research, we demonstrate how a One Bin system, underpinned by an open-source hierarchy of fates for end-of-life plastics and integrated with micro-level understanding of household practices, offers a roadmap to standardise and simplify plastic recycling.

We deliver three best practice goals to demonstrate where policy and investment can tackle the challenge of plastic waste. These are:

1. the need to understand consumer practice to shape recycling infrastructure and policy;

2. standardisation and consistency across the supply chain;

3. maximising value and sustainability of plastics via an open-source hierarchy of fates.

Simplified policies which draw on the best practices of this report are needed to create a robust and sustainable circular plastics economy.


One Bin Report - Sept 2023 - DIGITAL[20:9:23 with DOI].pdf

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