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Week 24 – Case study 6: Plastics and packaging

Case 6 worksheet [pdf]

Primary reading

EMF (2020), Upstream Innovation – A guide to packaging solutions, Nov [see page ranges for each question below]

see also supporting site

Discussion questions

  1. What does ‘upstream innovation’ mean in the context of plastics and packaging and why should firms seek to engage with it? [pp16-31]
  2. Pick one of the examples used to illustrate the innovative elimination strategy [pp50-71] and outline how that example relates to the three aspects inherent in the ‘mindset for upstream innovation’[p30].
  3. Select one of the four consumer-facing models for re-use [pp79-80] and, using an example, identify any broad implementation issues for that model and the business benefits for the example chosen [pp80-107].
  4. In what ways is effective plastics recycling dependent on deeper upstream innovation efforts? Which example do you think best demonstrates the potential of the circular economy? [pp122-137]


Channel 4 (2021), The Dirty Truth About Your Rubbish: Dispatches Monday 8th March, 8pm, Channel 4, March 8th

Siegle, L (2021), Revealed: why hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recycling are going up in smoke, The Observer, Mar 7th

Laville, S (2021), UK supermarkets not doing enough to cut plastic use, says report, The Guardian, Jan 26th

McVeigh, K (2020), Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestlé named top plastic polluters for third year in a row, The Guardian, Dec 7th