INC Fact Sheet Designing Products and Systems for Safe and Sustainable Reuse
Resource credentials, information, and download.
- Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
- Regional project
- Country project
- Document type
- Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution - Technical Resource for Pacific Island Courtiers
(Publications under review and may be updated prior to 30 September)
Reuse is a key component of the 3Rs + return (reduce, reuse and recycle) approach to reducing pollution but it has not yet been fully embraced in policy despite its reference in the Sustainable Development Goals. While it may appear as a new concept, before the advent of single-use plastics (SUP) traditional practices of reuse and refill were commonplace and are still a part of everyday life around the world. More recently, governments have recognised the impact of SUP products and imposed bans on specific items. However, this often leads to problematic alternatives and substitutes and perpetuates the take, make, dispose mentality. In reality, reuse comes higher up the waste hierarchy and deserves greater consideration by policymakers.
Comparing SUP and reusable packaging, reusable packaging is the more environmentally friendly option. The underlying logic is as simple as it is compelling: by using and reusing an item many times before it ends up as waste, the environmental costs, the amount of waste generated and the resources needed to produce and dispose of it can be divided by the number of uses. There are also significant opportunities for job creation. Deposit systems (not just specific to reuse) can create 11-38 times more job opportunities than other waste management alternatives. In this context the negotiations towards an International Legally Binding Instrument to End Plastic Pollution (ILBI) have included discussions on reuse as a pathway to reduce pollution. Reuse, if designed and defined correctly in the ILBI, has the potential to increase safe circularity and support the overall objective of ending plastic pollution.