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Policy approaches to incentivise sustainable plastic design


  • Emma Watkins
  • Jean-Pierre Schweitzer
  • Eeva Leinala
  • Peter Börkey


Plastics are an important material in the economy but present a challenge for waste management, resource efficiency and the environment. Low rates of recycling and high rates of environmental leakage represent key sustainability challenges for plastics as well as product designers and producers. The chemical composition of plastics, including their additives, create physical and toxicological barriers to ‘closing the loop’ on the material, and creates risks such as low quality secondary materials or ecological exposure to hazardous chemicals. A range of policy instruments can be applied to improve the sustainability of plastics, including regulations, market-based instruments, information and voluntary tools. The report reviews the current use of instruments in each of these categories, provides a number of good practice examples, such as product taxes and charges, eco-design standards, extended producer responsibility and environmental product labels, as well as discussing opportunities for their future applications.

Suggested Citation

  • Emma Watkins & Jean-Pierre Schweitzer & Eeva Leinala & Peter Börkey, 2019. "Policy approaches to incentivise sustainable plastic design," OECD Environment Working Papers 149, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:envaaa:149-en
    DOI: 10.1787/233ac351-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Ayah Alassali & Caterina Picuno & Zhi Kai Chong & Jinyang Guo & Roman Maletz & Kerstin Kuchta, 2021. "Towards Higher Quality of Recycled Plastics: Limitations from the Material’s Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(23), pages 1-22, November.
    2. Ghulamullah Maitlo & Imran Ali & Hubdar Ali Maitlo & Safdar Ali & Imran Nazir Unar & Muhammad Bilal Ahmad & Darya Khan Bhutto & Ramesh Kumar Karmani & Shamim ur Rehman Naich & Raja Umer Sajjad & Sikan, 2022. "Plastic Waste Recycling, Applications, and Future Prospects for a Sustainable Environment," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(18), pages 1-27, September.

    More about this item


    circular economy; plastics; policy instruments; resource efficiency;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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