New use-phase categorising model launched for plastics

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:
The report was developed in partnership between CIWM, ESA, the Resource Association and WRAP

Categorising plastic products may have got easier thanks to a new use-phase model launched today at Resourcing the Future conference in London.

Developed in partnership between CIWM, ESA, the Resource Association and WRAP, the new approach means targeted actions can be made based on the environmental impacts of each category.

The model was launched as part of the Eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042 report which stated a series of interventions were needed across the supply chain to close the loop on plastics.

These included Extended Producer Responsibility reforms and a clearer roadmap for bioplastics due to the potential for these materials to undermine current plastic recycling.

To develop a long-term framework to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, the report also called for a renewed focus on non-packaging plastic.

The categorisation system is based on the length of time plastics are used:

  • very short use phase (<1 day) small format e.g. cotton buds, plastic stirrers
  • very short use phase (<1 day) medium format e.g. disposable cups, takeaway containers
  • short use phase (>1 day <2 years) e.g. food and cosmetics packaging
  • medium use phase (>2 <12 years) e.g. car parts, electronics
  • long use phase (>12 years) e.g. cladding, window frames

By focusing attention on the dominant lifecycle, the report’s authors hope the categories will lead to sustainable design and production choices to be identified.

Dr Colin Church, chief executive of CIWM, said:
“The nation has to find a way to address public concerns about marine plastic pollution whilst at the same time recognising the role of plastics in modern society. This report helps to clarify some of the decisions we need to make in the forthcoming Resources & Waste Strategy.”


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