New report: Findings from the third UK SIMBIO innovation lab and UK SIMBIO project implications

The UK SIMBIO team have published their third and final SIMBIO report. This document details the findings from their third innovation lab event and gives implications for the project as a whole. Authored by Professor Benny Tjahjono, Dr. Macarena Beltran, Dr. Jordon Lazell, Dr. David Bek and Dr. Anna Bogush, the document provides an overview of the content discussed in the third Social Innovation Lab ‘Prototyping Solutions’ by stakeholders from the bioplastics industry, retail sector, consumer associations, government agency representatives, NGOs and international and UK academics.

The ‘Prototyping Solutions’ lab was held both online (via Zoom) and onsite (TechnoCentre in the city of Coventry) on the 25th of November, 2021, with the objective of evaluating the feasibility, practicality, and potential impacts of six cluster solutions to improve the sustainable uptake of BBPP, as well as prototyping and testing these solutions within the social innovation lab container. The six cluster solutions that emerged from the previous labs are: communication with consumers, end-of-life policies, certification standards and labelling, and education and development of specific products. The information provided in this report is based on presentations from eight experts who discussed their views on these six cluster solution areas, as well as the breakout discussion sessions with stakeholders and prototyping sessions for three BBPP products: ready meal trays, coffee pods and food caddy liners.

This report also sets out the key policy and industrial action recommendations that need to be taken
collaboratively across the supply chain to be able to move forward with the uptake of BBPP. In order to
provide a wider analysis and discussion, this document reviewed the current UK and EU policy gap and
integrated the findings from the three social innovation labs carried out between March and November
2021: a) Seeing the System; b) Designing solutions, and c) Prototyping solutions, which gathered diverse
stakeholder perspectives and collectively identified actions to support a future pathway for the biobased
biodegradable plastic sector. These are:

R&D for specific products

  • Policy recommendation #1: Expand R&D investments to produce products that offer an alternative to fossil-based plastics that are hard to recycle and/or prone to contamination, or provide extra environmental benefits over other materials.
  • Policy recommendation #2: R&D investments to continue evaluating the sustainability of biobased biodegradable plastic products by looking at the life cycle.
  • Policy recommendation #3: Expand R&D investments to improve biodegradability in industrialfacilities and home compost.

End-of-life

  • Policy recommendation #4: Invest in industrial composting and adequate anaerobic digestion facilities to support the uptake of biobased biodegradable plastic packaging products.
  • Policy recommendation #5: Create disposal and collection routes for biobased biodegradable plastic packaging products.

Certification standards

  • Policy recommendation #6: Greater accountability and collaboration to implement certification standards that must ensure alignment with both product labelling measures and waste management procedures.

Communication

  • Industrial action recommendation #1: A comprehensive marketing strategy that includes different layers and at various supply chain stages.

Education

  • Policy recommendation #7: Create education programmes focused on removing consumer confusion from labelling, providing memorable advice to encourage the right end-of-life procedure.
  • Policy recommendation #8: Develop educational programmes aimed at home composters to guide them in the biodegradability of plastics.
  • Industrial action recommendation #2: Develop educational campaigns aimed at key composter associations to guide them in the processing of composting biobased biodegradable plastics.

Overall policy

  • Policy recommendation #9: Develop a policy framework for biobased biodegradable plastic packaging, focusing upon R&D, communication, certification and labelling, education and end-of-life.

See the report document for further details.

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