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British RoyalsPrince Charles and Camilla

The Prince of Wales wants businesses to re-think recycling

At a meeting of business leaders, material experts and designers this week, Prince Charles urged the assembled guests to adopt the model of ‘re-use, recovery and regeneration’ and to rethink the way products are designed so as to reduce the amount of plastic waste.

Charles spoke about the fact that: ‘One critical part, as I see it, of the transition towards a circular economy, particularly in relation to plastics, is that of innovation and the need to rethink the way we design products.

‘This would entail moving from a model that encourages a buy, use, throw away mentality to one that facilitates re-use, recovery and regeneration.

‘We do need to consider, from the very beginning, the second, third and, indeed, fourth life of the products we use in everyday life.’

He continued: ‘My overriding hope is that you will draw inspiration from the example of key companies within the pulp and paper industry, which have combined forces to develop innovative methods of achieving rapid de-carbonisation, and will be able to find ways to continue to work together beyond this meeting and to find clear and practical ways forward.

‘For surely it cannot be beyond the wit of man to integrate circular economy principles into the heart of business models?’

Charles’s remarks came as he was joined on stage at the British Academy in London by Dame Ellen MacArthur. Dame Ellen’s foundation recently launched a report alongside the World Economic Forum that claimed the oceans are expected to contain more plastic pieces than fish (when measured by weight) by the year 2050 – a staggering statistic.

According to a study by plastics recycling organisation Recoup, approximately 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste is created every year, but only half of that amount is being recycled. The half that isn’t recycled is going to landfills due to a lack of knowledge about what can and can’t be recycled, a lack of facilities to properly deal with it or a combination of both factors.

Prince Charles’s International Stability Unit works to highlight the importance of innovation and design in shaping the plastic value chain to reduce environmental impact. In addition, the prince’s Business in the Community organisation has formed a task force to build a programme of collaborative action and innovation in a variety of sectors.