Plastics and more specifically plastic packaging waste have embedded within them the considerable resource value – energy, raw materials, etc. – that were used in their production but fortunately they are in principle recyclable and so this value could be recovered. However, in fact, often only a small fraction of the total packaging plastic consigned to waste is collected for recycling. In turn, each material has to be used a number of times with a decreasing quality over time. When this happens a cascade materialised and a loop approximately closes, with energy recovery the only last step to terminate the cascade. There are fundamental challenges involved in making this happen, and especially in an effective and sustainable way.
Our team will aim at a three pillar developmental approach: (i) a theoretical conceptual framework on systems of cascades; (ii) a software toolkit (CVORR) for quantifying and enabling functional inter-dependencies of organisations in all sectors within the system (material/ chemicals / products design and manufacturing, waste collection, sorting/ cleaning and reprocessing sectors, retail, consumers, brokers), while maintaining and balancing sustainability priorities and overall value creation; and (iii) an application of the CVORR framework and tool to specific innovation challenges for validation and new business opportunities identification