Plastic labelling needs 'sustainability scale'

7 Mar 2022

Labelling of plastic products needs a drastic overhaul including a new "sustainability scale" to help consumers, according to research from The University of Queensland and University of Exeter.

Plastic pollution is a growing global problem, with an increasingly complex mix of plastics found everywhere from the Arctic to Mount Everest.

Professor Kevin Thomas, Director of UQ’s Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences and lead researcher for the Minderoo Centre - Plastics and Human Health said simplistic, unhelpful labelling and low recycling rates are major barriers to tackling this issue.

“A new internationally applicable labelling system is required that moves focus from recyclability to sustainability,” Professor Thomas said.

“It needs to be specific to the country and region of purchase and provide information to the public about plastic additive content.

"We hope that our recommendations initiate a reassessment of plastics labelling and that implementation of a sustainability scale allows individuals to make informed decisions in how they use plastics.

“This is just one small necessary step towards helping people help the environment.”

The research team stress recommendations should not detract from the urgent need to use less plastic – especially single-use items.

At present, about 368 million tonnes of plastic is produced worldwide each year.

Read full article on UQ News

The University of Queensland and the University of Exeter partnered to establish the QUEX Institute — an initiative designed to bolster our joint global research impact. Operating as a ‘virtual’ institute, the QUEX Institute promotes opportunities for academics to conduct collaborative research at both universities, facilitated through specified and targeted investment.