Ellen MacArthur Foundation study reveals reusability as a key solution to cut plastic pollution by over 20% and boost job creation. Discover the transformative impact of reusable packaging on environmental sustainability and the circular economy.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation Study Advocates Reusable Models to Slash Plastic Pollution and Spur Job Growth

Replacing single-use models with reusability is one of the greatest opportunities to reduce packaging pollution, according to a new study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The results indicate that the shift to reusable models could lead to a reduction of over 20% in the total plastics discarded and found in oceans annually by 2040.

According to the foundation, the use of reusable packaging can play a role in combating plastic pollution, as well as reducing the use of virgin materials, greenhouse gas emissions, and water consumption. The study focuses on returnable packaging in a Business-2-Consumer (B2C) model. Customers purchase products as usual but in reusable packaging, which is later returned to the company for cleaning and refilling before being resold.

The model differs from refill models, where customers keep the packaging for reuse, the foundation says, but the chosen approach is closer to current systems, from filling the packaging through retail supply chains to the customer's shopping experience. Thus, according to the study, returnable models address various concerns about reuse, such as hygiene, space occupancy in retail outlets, and customer convenience

However, to expand returnable models and their benefits, it is necessary to expand the collection and processing infrastructure for packaging, as well as address other challenges, such as safety for reusing materials and mechanisms to encourage returns.

"As companies retain ownership and responsibility for packaging in reuse and return models, their role is crucial to ensuring optimized shared systems and encouraging customers to adopt the model. Policymakers, in turn, must help create favorable conditions for reuse, while financial institutions must provide financial support and investment in the necessary infrastructure," the study states.

In addition to environmental benefits, the reuse revolution could contribute to job creation. The foundation estimates that up to 11,000 jobs could be created locally in various packaging value chain activities.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom, develops and promotes the circular economy to address climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.


Keywords

reusability , packaging pollution reduction , Ellen MacArthur Foundation , returnable packaging , circular economy

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