Designing Solutions Report: Findings from the second UK SIMBIO Social Innovation Lab

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Abstract

This report presents the main findings from the second Social Innovation Lab ‘Designing Solutions’, which was held online on the 10th of June 2021 to expand on possible ‘solutions’ that challenge the norms in bioplastics packaging, identify promising solutions for rapid prototyping, and explore future pathways for improving the sustainable uptake of bioplastics packaging. This report has been produced by leading academics from Coventry University, as part of the research project SIMBIO – Social Innovation Management for Bioplastics – which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC grant number: ES/T015195/1). Stakeholders from the bioplastics industry, retail sector, consumer associations, government agencies, NGOs and international and UK academics identified three areas of solutions that currently have the highest potential to drive change to a sustainable packaging system. Participants identified: communication with consumers, certification standards & guidelines, and end of life as the most promising solutions applicable to a biobased biodegradable plastics packaging system (also referred to as ‘compostable plastics’ in this report). These solutions were seen as complementary and under a dynamic process, which, combined with long-term measures, such as education and policy/ regulatory measures, may help facilitate the sustainable transition of packaging to compostable plastics packaging. By 2030, the lab participants envision greener values and sustainable practices for consumers and businesses, less complexity and more consistency in the waste management system. In this context, participants also anticipated potential opportunities for compostable plastics packaging to replace plastics packaging that is not recyclable or very difficult to recycle. This sustainable pathway would be supported by the mandatory joint collection of food waste & compostable plastics packaging and appropriate waste management systems (infrastructure and processes) – effectively implemented and available for everyone. They have also foreseen that ‘intelligent’ packaging could play a role in facilitating the recovery of all packaging materials. The second lab also proposed that compostable plastics packaging uptake could not be seen in isolation from the packaging system. They also emphasised the improvement needed to clarify the information on all packaging products and the advanced management practices required for the disposal and collection of all recycled materials by the different actors (e.g. workplaces, local councils). Besides, they called attention to the need to find ways to provide alternative solutions for packaging used on a regular basis in homes (e.g. bathroom products in bottles). This type of packaging may be currently highly recycled; however, due to their frequency of use, these packaging forms can also be reused, refilled, or further re-invented. The envisioned sustainable pathway by 2030 requires a more fine-grained development of innovations that will be discussed in the third social innovation lab, i.e. ‘rapid prototyping of potential solutions’. This pathway is expected to be supported by innovations (e.g. product innovation, process innovation, service innovation, etc.) and policy changes.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCoventry University
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2021

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