New Upstream Innovation guide offers practical solutions to the plastic pollution crisis

November 19, 2020

Today, we published Upstream Innovation: A guide to packaging solutions, which offers circular economy solutions to the plastic pollution crisis.

Packed with practical guidance and real-world examples, this handbook has been designed for anyone directly or indirectly influencing the packaging that is put around a product. By focusing more of their efforts on upstream innovation – at the design stage of a product rather than just downstream efforts such as recycling – businesses can prevent waste from ever being created in the first place.

The guide includes:

  • The mindset: Introducing the mindset for upstream innovation
  • Three key strategies: Examples and guidance on applying upstream innovation to achieve three circular economy strategies - Elimination, Reuse, Material Circulation)
  • Making it happen: Guidance on how to support and make decisions throughout the upstream innovation processes

Case studies from Tesco, Lush, Walmart and Abel & Cole, amongst others, demonstrate how businesses around the world are using circular economy solutions across a range of sectors. Explore the guide in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese, along with an interactive searchable database of all of the innovations profiled in the book. There is also a workshop asset pack to help you organise upstream innovation events which will get the ball rolling on positive action.

We cannot recycle our way out of the plastic pollution crisis, we need to move upstream and look at what is put on the market in the first place, so we can design out waste, not simply manage it better. The circular economy allows us to redesign the entire plastics system to not only overcome the global challenge of plastic pollution, but to do so in a way that allows us to build better growth, and create solutions at speed and scale. Designers and businesses are at the heart of this transition and we hope this guide will help them on that journey.

- Sara Wingstrand, Innovation Programme Manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Upstream Innovation guide comes just weeks after the Foundation published, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, its second New Plastics Economy Global Commitment Progress Report, which made it clear that businesses would need to step up their elimination and reuse efforts if they were to meet their 2025 targets to address plastic pollution.

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