An exchange and innovation platform boosting plastic reuse

Posted on 01 September 2020.

Funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 program, the PlasticTwist research program is working to develop plastic reuse practices.

The strategy is underpinned by the concept of a global economy where used plastics aren’t waste but resources.

Despite their contribution to the economy and to improving our daily lives, plastics have in addition created large scale pollution that calls for a global response. In fact, some of the properties that make plastic so useful - such as its low cost, lightness and longevity - also make it difficult to dispose of.

To address the issue, the European Union (EU) decided to introduce a "new plastics economy". Presented in publications such as the World Economic Forum report "The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics" and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s "The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action" that Veolia has joined, the strategy is underpinned by the concept of a global economy where used plastics aren’t waste but resources that can be used to make new products. And it’s a vision that is increasingly being embraced by leading players, including several major manufacturers who have embarked on a zero-waste approach.

Against this background and in line with the concept of digital social innovation, the EU launched the PlasticTwist research project with a view to boosting plastic reuse practices and raising its citizens’ and stakeholders’ awareness of the advantages presented by the circular economy.


A blockchain based platform

More specifically, PlasticTwist's mission is to "empower citizens, communities, inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs to co-create and sustain new forms of plastic-as-an-asset practices, through an open, blockchain based, platform, fostering innovation and adoption by local manufacturers, start-ups, and SMEs».

The rollout of PlasticTwist is accompanied by the creation of an e-currency for use in transactions in relation to plastic reuse based products. Blockchain technology secures, stores and shares these transactions with the user network.

Innovative solutions will also be explored on the platform via open source tools and gamification, crowdsourcing and open source data. For example, apps will be available that collect and visualize plastics data from a variety of different sources. A serious game, with players in the shoes of "activists from all over the world who share the common goal of protecting the environment by collecting and reusing plastic waste [...]", has also been developed.

Three pilot projects in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Greece are already underway. They not only conceptualize the ecosystems that PlasticTwist is seeking roll out at local level, but also highlight citizen participation.