University of Manchester-led project to investigate improving plastic recycling business models

University of Manchester
University of Manchester

A project being led by the University of Manchester will look into ways of making it easier for the public to recycle plastics and derive better business models for its use.

The ‘One Bin to Rule Them All’ Project also involves Axion, Biffa, bp, Britvic, BASF, Co-op, Defra, Dsposal, Ecosurety, Faerch, iPAC, GMCA, Polytag, Sharpak, Suez recycling and recovery UK and Unilever.


It aims to improve compliance with recycling by developing one bin to hold all plastic items and improving recycling infrastructure to create more usable recycled plastics that can be fed back into the circular economy.

The three key challenges the project hopes to solve are:

improving methods of chemical and mechanical recycling

developing business models to derive value from reused plastic for industry

understanding consumer practices that lead to enhanced recycling compliance.

Funding for the £1.5 million programme has been granted through UK Research & Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging.

Academics from the University of Manchester will be involved in disciplines including materials science, manufacturing engineering and social sciences.

University of Manchester director of the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub and sustainability champion for the Henry Royce Institute Professor Michael Shaver said: “It is clear that improved recycling infrastructure at national level needs to be driven by industry finding value in recycled materials.

“Through the ‘One Bin’ project, we will work with companies, waste management specialists and local governments to collectively develop robust business models that derive real value from recycled plastics.

“As a polymer scientist, it is clear that the overwhelming challenge of plastic waste management can not be overcome with materials science alone.

“We can improve the recyclability of plastics but we need to understand how people interact with waste streams to ensure they are fit for purpose. The ‘One Bin’ project’s holistic approach will innovate the creation, use and disposal of plastics simultaneously.”

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