Product designers should ‘challenge the norms’ with clients and think along more ‘circular’ lines to encourage greater uptake of recycled polymers in new goods, urges a UK-based plastics reprocessor.
Recognising strong market drivers, such as resource scarcity, oil price volatility and growing consumer demand for sustainable products, while working within the pre-set design constraints presented by recycled polymers, are further important factors, according to Keith Freegard, Director of Axion Polymers.
“Engaging with product specifiers and designers to make them recognise the clear environmental, economic and sustainable benefits of using recycled plastics is essential if we are to increase the uptake of recycled content in new items,” he commented.
“This is vital if we are to realise the wider aims of sustainable manufacturing and the circular economy,” said Freegard, who will be speaking on ‘Increasing use of recycled plastics in products’ at REPLAST 2013, the British Plastics Federation’s (BPF) sixth annual plastics recycling conference on November 6.
The theme of this year’s event, at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in London, is ‘Driving Manufacturing Using Recycled Plastics’ and the conference will examine how to increase the size of the UK plastics recycling industry and its market.
Key speakers from industry will outline how positive drivers to encourage more reuse could include reducing producer responsibility obligations under the PRN system by introducing an ‘offset’ allowance for the proportion of PCR recyclates used in new products.
According to Freegard, designers have an important role to play in making their clients aware of the potential benefits and savings that could result from specifying and inclusion of closed-loop recyclates at an early stage in the product development process. “Essentially, designers must challenge the client brief and think about circular materials flow using proven recycled polymers that can deliver multiple benefits,” he said.
“There’s enough good quality recycled material out there now for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.”