A $2m prize for inventors to devise products that are practical and easily recycled will be launched by Prince Charles in London. Simon Ellin, CEO of the UK Recycling Association, welcomed the competition, adding: “Improvements are desperately needed in product design.”
Simon Ellin’s worst recycling offenders:
Pringles (and products with similar packaging): “Number One recycling villain. These things are a… nightmare. Impossible to separate the parts.”
- Lucozade Sport (and drinks with similar packaging): “Number Two villain. This bottle is so confusing to computer scanners that it has to be picked by hand off the recycling conveyor. Then it often just gets chucked away.”
- Cleaning spray bottles: “Labels often say the product is recyclable, but that’s only the body. The spray has two or three other polymers and a metal spring. It’s almost impossible.”
- Black plastic food trays: “Supermarkets think black trays make meat look redder so they colour the tray black but that makes it worthless for recycling. Also, if someone leaves the torn film on the tray, with a bloody card below it, we just have to chuck it anyway.”
- Whisky packaging: “It grieves me to say this as one who likes his whisky but whisky causes us problems. The metal bottom and top to the sleeve, the glass bottle, the metal cap… very hard for us.”
The Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, promoted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit , is split into two sections.
- One seeks ideas to prevent the sea being strewn with small plastic items like coffee cup lids, plastic straws and plastic bottle tops.
- The other seeks innovations in general product design and materials so items are easier to recycle.