University of Twente Student Theses


Improving Circularity of the Plastics Supply Chain in The Netherlands

Bos, T.W. (2021) Improving Circularity of the Plastics Supply Chain in The Netherlands.

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Abstract:The use of plastics and the pollution it is causing to the environment have been a hot topic for years. With growing attention for recycling worldwide, The plastic waste problem is no longer neglectable. To find a solution to this growing problem, the source of the problem has to be found and a fitting solution has to be made to be successful. There are multiple sources for this problem. Therefore, it is important to focus on one problem and solution at a time. This thesis is focused on the plastics supply chain of the Netherlands specifically. By analysing the current situation and comparing this to the norm set by governments to reach in the future, we can indicate the challenges that the plastics supply chain is facing. By analysing the situation in the Netherlands, the literature and the research on which this thesis is based, the following research question was formulated: How can the cooperation in the plastic supply chain be increased to achieve an increase of circularity in the sector? To goal was to indicate the demand for increased cooperation within the plastics supply chain in the Netherlands, and how this could increase the circularity of the plastic materials. By increasing circularity, it is possible to extend the life cycle of a resource. By extending the life cycle, fewer resources are needed to fulfil the demand of the consumer. Using fewer resources leads to less fossil fuel used, but re-using materials also leads to less waste. This waste then again does not end up in landfills or leaks into the environment. The research started with a supply chain analysis of the current situation of the plastics supply chain. this visualises the “reality” and gives us a clear starting point to work from. After this, existing literature on plastics recycling and circularity improving measures was studied. This is done to increase knowledge on the possible solutions for the growing plastics problem. Then, interviews have been conducted. The respondents to the interviews were selected based on their extensive experience and knowledge on either producing plastic products, recycling plastic products or the chemical and technical properties of plastic materials. By combining the knowledge of these experts, the knowledge gap between literature/theory and practice is closed. From the research and the interviews, new insights have been acquired. The three most important findings of this research are shortly summarised below: • The demand for shared knowledge by increased cooperation will lead to a more transparent supply chain. • To create a transparent and competitive supply chain, rules and regulations have to be made for the material characteristics of recycled plastics. Fluctuating quality of recycled materials will lead to operational risks for manufacturers. • Plastic products should be recycled for recycling. By using mono-materials instead of combining multiple plastics in one product, the sorting and recycling process is drastically improved, and contamination is reduced significantly. This leads to a direct increase in recyclability of products. The bottom line of this research is prevention is better than cure. If manufacturers produce products that are easier to recycle, recyclers will be able to lower their operational costs. This then results in lower prices and higher quality for recycled plastics, from which manufacturers could benefit.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:43 environmental science, 85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Industrial Engineering and Management BSc (56994)
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