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Plastics packaging ‘needs redesign’

Black and hard plastics packaging have been voted as the worst designed items for waste reduction in a public poll.

The survey was conducted by The Peoples’ Design Lab, a partnership between Welsh environmental services provider Cwm Harry and Loughborough and Cranfield Universities. The project was funded by social innovation charity NESTA.

Project manager Emma Hallett said that The People’s Design Lab was set up to find the items most in need of redesigning because nothing could be done with them once their product life was over.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 people, ranked black plastic packaging and rigid plastic packaging as the worst designed, followed by ink jet printers.

Biffa Polymers, formerly one of the largest operations recycling mixed plastic pots, tubs and trays (PTT), switched its feedstock to polypropylene this summer after finding that processing PTT was no longer economically viable, MRW reported.

MRW also reported in February that packaging manufacturers have carried out successful large-scale trials of an innovation that helps black packaging to be detected by Near Infrared (NIR) technology in sorting facilities. This will help them be recycled in the future but depends on a roll-out in MRFs.

Hallett said: “So many of us are recycling and reducing and doing our bit but there is nothing we can do with these items once we are done with them. They just cause problems and we know, with a bit of commitment, we can design that out.”

The lab is calling for companies and designers to look at how they can redesign products and packaging to reduce their impact on the waste stream. It also aims at making proposals on how the change can be achieved.

This call echoes a key design expert, who urged designers to visit recyclers to understand how to design out waste earlier this year, MRW reported. WRAP and Labour have also recently called for business to design out waste.

  • The Peoples’ Design Lab will hold a free conference on product design and zero waste in Coventry on 12 September.

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