One Bin to Rule Them All

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

One Bin to Rule Them All is an innovative, interdisciplinary research project focused on developing a streamlined standard for plastics recycling which can be rolled out across UK homes, businesses and urban infrastructures. Working with stakeholders from across the plastics supply chain, including manufacturers, retailers and consumers, the project prioritises the value in plastic waste materials to ensure more effective and efficient pathways for recycling. Thus, reducing overall plastic waste and ensuring that future plastics are produced from higher recycled content.

David Attenborough's Blue Planet II has highlighted the urgent global need to address plastic waste, pushing the issue into the forefront of the public mind. Whilst retailers and manufacturers are focused on improving the recycled content of their packaging, there is simply a lack of quality recyclable material available in the UK. Inadequate recycling infrastructure causes 60% of single use packaging to be exported, much of which is then incinerated. Not only is this a waste of valuable recyclable materials but there are significant environmental impacts involved in moving such waste across the globe and then burning it.

One Bin will develop and integrate modern recycling technologies and processes in order to eliminate plastic release into the environment. This will be achieved through three interdisciplinary and interrelated work packages:

Work package 1, led by material science, will create a hierarchy of plastic packaging to determine the optimal route for capturing and retaining value in plastic waste through re-use, mechanical recycling or chemical recycling.
Work package 2, led by management science and economics, will design and then trial innovations for One Bin business models along the plastic packaging supply chain, identifying new business opportunities and pathways to design out waste.
Work package 3, led by social science, will examine consumer engagement with One Bin and potential barriers to adoption through a consumer trial of the One Bin system, pre and post trial consumer interviews and a focus group with key stakeholders.

By recognising and releasing the value in plastic waste, and standardising the current UK plastic waste management system, One Bin will overcome the current complexities surrounding plastic recycling and contribute to the UK Plastic Pact goals.

The potential benefits from the project are significant, including:
a) Reducing plastic release into the environment through enabling the creation of a truly circular plastics economy and a long-term elimination of plastic release.
b) Creating an easy-to-use, standardised waste system for consumers that can be rolled out across the UK and incorporated into households, work places and leisure settings.
c) Releasing and achieving economic value by identifying the most efficient recycling pathways and business models for different types of plastic.

Publications

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