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Plastics-Design-Polymer-backlash against plastics raising issues for design

UK — Plastics have been a mainstay of product design for so long that the idea of living without them – or even reducing their use – is almost unthinkable. The advantages of plastic are clear: almost infinite adaptability in terms of shape; light weight; durability; and aesthetic finish. However, the problems are increasingly clear as well.

In January, the government launched its 25-year environment plan, which aims to eliminate all ‘avoidable plastic waste’ by the end of 2042. To help achieve this goal, carrier bag charges were extended to all retailers in England, and government is working with supermarkets to encourage plastic-free aisles in supermarkets.

Clearly, this places design engineers in something of a bind. Pressure is already being exerted on companies to abandon non-recyclable plastics in their products, which means that briefs are reaching design engineers that reflect this.

To address this situation, the British Plastics Federation (BPF) has launched ‘Plastics: A Vision for a Circular Economy’ — a document outlining a range of key proposals intended to drive innovation in the plastics sector and improve UK recycling rates. The headline measures announced by the BPF are part of a new industry vision to ensure 100% of plastic packaging and single-use items are reused, recycled or recovered by 2030.

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