Eliminating single-use plastic food packaging: A multi-dimensional assessment

Theme: Environmental Hazards & Pollution

Primary Supervisor:

Eleni Iacovidou

Life Sciences, Brunel

Eleni Iacovidou's Profile Picture

Project Description:

This PhD aims to analyse the potential for single-use plastic packaging reduction in the food system by explicitly recognising the plastic packaging-food system interdependence in promoting circular economy. The project using England as case study, will initially map the mass and types of single-use plastic packaging used in food contact applications, from the point of manufacture, import and distribution up to the point of consumption, in order to make recommendations for which packages can theoretically be ‘avoidable’. Using the newly developed, complex value optimisation for resource recovery (CVORR) approach, the project will then assess the institutional, environmental, economic, social and technical aspects arising from a potential removal of the identified ‘avoidable’ plastic packaging and uncover the potential challenges and trade-offs on the interconnected food system. By the use of different scenarios, the project will also explore how short-term and long-term changes in the plastic packaging system due to the introduction of bioplastics, smart packaging, and plans for a deposit return scheme and implementation of a plastic tax, will create implications in the way the two systems operate. The analysis will explicitly identify the various applications, processes, technologies and stakeholders involved in the potentially avoidable single-use plastic food packages and investigate their power relations and impact on the interconnected systems. Following the analysis, the project will make recommendations on which types of single-use plastic packaging can be avoidable, and thus eliminated from the UK system.

Policy Impact of Research:

This project can: a) reveal the impact of using single-use plastics in the UK value chain; and b) identify unanticipated trade-offs and other potential problems under realistic scenarios in the UK context; c) support decision-making processes in meeting the targets set by UK Plastic Pact, echoed by the UK government.

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