Project News: Business models for long-life plastic re-use

SEALIVE project partners Gate2Growth and Greenovate! Europe are developing business models to support the uptake and use of bio-based plastic solutions. Here we introduce one area of research: business models for long-life plastic re-use.

Many of the current applications for single-use plastics could be replaced with long-life, reusable plastics. Combined with the right business models, customers could be incentivised to return or re-use plastic products, thus ensuring that plastics are not lost to landfill. Economic incentivisation (e.g. deposits) are not the only way and value-based systems are proving successful as more and more people recognise the impact of their consumption and seek to make more sustainable choices. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has explored re-use models for plastics and finds four types being used by companies:

  • Return ‘from home’: the plastic container is picked up by a logistics service from the point of use after it has been emptied;
  • Return ‘on the go’: the user returns the container to the point of purchase once it is empty, to be cleaned and re-used;
  • Refill ‘at home’: a long-lasting container is refilled with delivered contents;
  • Refill ‘on the go’: the consumer takes the empty container to a store for refill.

These models move the plastic packaging away from being a pure commodity, to a value-added for the brand. Reuse enables manufacturers to cut packaging costs, build brand loyalty, repeat custom, and optimise performance as packaging can be used for multiple products. However, additional costs are incurred as a result of the new logistics support needed to operate, particularly for the ‘at home’ approaches.


For more information about SEALIVE’s research in business models for long-life plastic re-use, please contact Carmen Bianca Socaciu, or Simon Hunkin,


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Published 02/03/2021 | Last edited 26/03/2021

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