Plastic Thinking

The 10 Easy Principles or alternatively.

Applying the tools of environmental management

to reduce the negative environmental impacts

associated with the use of plastic

About The Book

This 2019 Principles of Plastic Thinking e-book has been significantly updated to reflect our greater understanding of the plastic pollution issues, and the anticipated changes in legislation and guidance.


The underlying principles of lifecycle thinking, waste minimisation and design for the environment are tried and tested environmental disciplines which have remained relatively unchanged over the years. These disciplines are not specific to the issues of plastic, and can be applied to any resource management issue, so although the title of this book refers to Plastic Thinking – it really means flexible thinking about any environmental concern.  It would be possible to apply these environmental principles to different material options or priority issues such as the use of fossil fuels, other non-renewable resources or conflict minerals.

“The purpose of this book is not to declare war on plastic, but to help the reader to decide on when plastic is the optimal choice. There are many properties of plastic that mean it will continue to be an essential material in our 21st century lives, we simply need to be more thoughtful in our use and treatment of this precious resource”. Dr Dawn Pope.

The purpose of this book is not to declare war on plastic, but to help the reader to decide on when plastic is the optimal choice

TThe UK has a plastic packaging recycling target of 57% by 2020. 99% of local authorities are now collecting plastic bottles at the kerbside and 76% collect pots, tubs and trays. The British Plastics Federation (2018) state a 58% plastic packaging collection rate for plastic bottles and 32% for pots, tubs and trays. The plastic film waste in 2016 was estimated to be 762,000 with 414,000 tonnes from consumers and 348,000 tonnes from non-consumer sources.

The EU has identified ten key items under the proposal for a single use plastics directive, to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe's beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. Together these constitute 70% of all marine litter items.

The UN estimate that 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year (UN 2018) and that plastic pollution costs the lives of 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals per year.

The environmental cost to society of consumer plastic products and packaging was over $139 billion in 2015, equivalent to almost 20% of plastic manufacturing sector revenue, and is expected to grow to $209 billion by 2025. The environmental cost of plastic marine litter alone is estimated to be $8 billion. (UN 2018).