‘One Bin to Rule Them All’: Improving UK plastic recycling

Have you ever been frustrated by the complexities of household recycling? Unsure about what goes in which bin? This innovative project seeks to address these issues to improve household plastic recycling.

‘One Bin to Rule Them All’ is a three-year project funded by a UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Grant on Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging.

Bringing together material scientists with social science and business models, the project uses an interdisciplinary approach to tackle the issue of plastic recycling.

Plastic recycling in the UK is currently highly complex:

  • In 2021 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste was generated – just 44.4% of that was recycled (DEFRA, 2022).
  • There are over 391 different local authorities in the UK with an estimated 39 different bin regimes.
  • What can be recycled in one local authority is often not recyclable in a neighbouring one.

This lack of standardisation is an issue for households. Marry this with different rules on how items should be treated (lids on or off, washed or dirty), along with very different capabilities across the UK’s 3,500 plus waste recovery facilities, and the issues with plastic recycling are clearly apparent.

‘One Bin to Rule Them All’ aims to improve plastic recycling by developing ‘One Bin’ to hold all plastic like items. In turn we are working with stakeholders from across the plastics supply chain to improving recycling infrastructure to create more usable recycled plastics that can be fed back into a circular economy. Simplifying plastic recycling for consumers and retaining value within plastic packaging waste streams, our work aims to eliminate plastic from being released into the environment.

For more information please email: one.bin@manchester.ac.uk or watch our short video.

Meet the Team