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The Upstream Innovation guide tells how to harness the power of upstream innovation as a root-cause solution to plastic waste.
In a , upstream innovation is about tracing a problem back to its root cause and tackling it there. It means that rather than working out how to deal with a pile of waste, we prevent it from being created in the first place. Find out how moving upstream can tackle packaging waste and pollution while generating economic benefits.
Upstream Innovation: Rethinks products and services at the design stage. For example, this can include developing new materials, product designs, or business models.
Downstream Innovation: Affects a product or material after its first use. For example, this can include developing a new collection, sorting, and recycling technologies.
This guide focuses on upstream.
Rethinking the packaging, product, and business model to prevent and design out packaging waste
Upstream innovation requires a shift in mindset, beyond focusing on incremental packaging improvements. It is about rethinking how we get products and services to users without creating waste.
There are five key ingredients that underpin successful upstream innovation efforts:
Through in-depth interviews and extensive engagement with businesses, we have identified five key ingredients that support a successful upstream innovation process in the corporate setting. It is not necessary for all key ingredients to be present all the time, but the presence of at least a few does appear to mean the innovation process is more likely to be successful.
Read how the five key ingredients contributed to four successful innovations on p. 166 in the guide. Here you will also find additional guidance on making upstream decisions and the role of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in upstream innovation.
To quote this study, please use the following reference: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Upstream Innovation: A guide to packaging solutions (2020).