To illustrate what a future plastics economy might look like, ExeMPLaR is running three short demonstration projects.
Recovery and re-use of Food Grade PET
Food grade plastics, such as PET, account for a large proportion of plastic waste. Much of this plastic is downcycled or incinerated because it becomes contaminated in the collection and segregation process. To derive greater value and close material loops requires new ways to collect this plastic to avoid contamination and also find ways to utilise the plastic locally. This demonstration project is experimenting with a new plastic collection process for these types of plastics and working with local businesses to assess the potential to create higher value re-usable products. From this project we are looking to assess how much food grade plastics in the region could be recirculated locally and the potential to create jobs, local economic benefit and reduce the amount of such plastics ending up as litter in the environment. The details of this demonstrator will be presented in a future webinar and workshop. If you are interested, join the hub on recycling and collection systems.
Nature Inspired Materials
It is widely agreed that many types of plastics have valuable and important functional roles. Finding alternatives to very low cost, fossil fuel derived plastics involves many challenges but also opportunities. One option is to consider biological materials to create compostable, biodegradable alternatives or designed to be recovered and re-used locally. In doing so these materials need to be readily abundant and grown or used in ways that regenerate, rebuild or restore ecosystems and natural capital. The materials also need to be proven to be safe. We have short-listed a number of potential biological materials and will be inviting members of the network to participate in a future workshop to work with regional innovators to assess potential applications and the potential for a new regional industry. If you are interested, join the hub on alternative materials.
Regional and local initiatives
The South West region has many exciting projects and initiatives to tackle different problems and impacts from our current use of plastics. A key part of the EXeMPLaR project is to look at how all these projects together can form the basis for a new future regional plastics economy. In order to do this we need to look at the aims and objectives for the different projects, the challenges and barriers they face in creating change, sharing learning and ensuring the actions promoted are underpinned by sound science. We would like all members to tell us about the initiatives they are leading or supporting, your achievements and about what works and doesn’t work and how successful initiatives can be scaled. Join the hub on Regional Initiatives and watch out for future webinars and events on this topic.