Are you familiar with The New Plastics Economy? It's a global initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (think tank) in collaboration with a laundry list of plastics stakeholders. Click here for the participants and partners. The Plastics Economy is a concept based on a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with analytical support from McKinsey & Company. Titled The New Plastics Economy-- Rethinking the future of plastics, the report provides "the vision of a global economy in which plastic never becomes waste." Click here for the report overview and findings, and to download the report.
In short, the Report illuminates a disconnect between the value of the plastic packaging we produce and use and its associated value after use. Because there is little post-use value associated with plastic packaging, there is little economic impetus to collect, recycle, and reuse it. Thus plastic packaging remains outside the circular economy model, making its way into the natural environment and persisting in our waterways and oceans.
One of the calls to action of the Report is the need for design innovation surrounding plastic packaging; that is, the need to "fundamentally change the way we design and use plastics." To create impetus, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation just announced the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize. The contest abstract reads:
If we want to free our ocean from plastics, we have to fundamentally rethink the way we make, use and re-use plastics so that they don’t become waste in the first place. To do this, we need better materials, clever product designs and new, circular business models. That’s why we are calling for innovators, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to find solutions that keep plastics in the economy, and out of the ocean.
Check out the video that summarizes, with pretty pictures, the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize: