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Confusion in where and how to recycle.

Working out how to recycle the myriad of plastics to be recycled in York

Photo of Richard James MacCowan
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Within our city, the council makes a conscious effort to promote recycling and the reuse of materials. This is led by waste services and One Planet York. They have an app that you can scan to ensure so you know where the different materials can be recycled. 

The issue with this is the different types of plastic used on a weekly basis in the delivery of food products. A carton of milk can three different plastics from the bottle, lid and label. Certain types of mixed plastics if dirty or difficult to separate are disposed of at the recycling stage due to the small margins made by the recycling companies and the petrochemical industry ensuring that suppliers and manufacturers use 'virgin' material.

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

Use cases: 1. Single-use sachet for liquid consumer products 2. Bottle caps and tear-offs 3. Straws and take-away coffee lids

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

The complexity of the recycling and how people use packaging, from source to consumer. It made us realise the number of different plastics on the market and the difficulty and challenges of even recycling some simple like a milk carton.

Tell us about yourself

The group that conducted the research we a mix of people from differing backgrounds. Designers, students, entrepreneurs, and environmentalists all took part in our two workshops. This gave our research and a good mix of society and how people from differing backgrounds use plastics.

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Photo of Kate Rushton

HI Richard,

Thank you for sharing your insights and the limits of apps in a world where multiple layers and types of plastics are used in one product. I struggle to know what to recycle too.

I look forward to seeing you in the ideas phase. I hope you can bring along some ideas inspired by biomimicry.