The message on the bottle: Rethinking plastic labelling to better encourage sustainable use

Stephen D. Burrows, Francisca Ribeiro, Stacey O'Brien, Elvis Okoffo, Tania Toapanta, Nathan Charlton, Sarit Kaserzon, Chun Yin Lin, Cheng Tang, Cassandra Rauert, Xianyu Wang, Katja Shimko, Jake O'Brien, Piers A. Townsend, Matthew N. Grayson, Tamara Galloway, Kevin V. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Plastic pollution continues to worsen globally in volume and complexity. The complexity in plastic production, use and disposal is significant, highlighting the importance of clear communication to consumers. Yet despite this, poor plastic labelling is clear, evident from poor waste management metrics even in the most equipped countries. Plastic labelling must change to contribute to a holistic intervention on global plastic mismanagement. Discussion on this topic leads to three key recommendations: 1. An accurate and clear “sustainability scale” to empower consumers to make decisions informed by environmental and human health implications; 2. Directions for appropriate disposal action in the region of purchase; 3. A comprehensive list of plastic composition, including additives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date24 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Francisca Ribeiro and Stephen D. Burrows are funded by the QUEX Institute, a partnership between the University of Exeter (UK) and The University of Queensland (Australia). The Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences , The University of Queensland, gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Queensland Health, Australia. The Minderoo Centre – Plastics and Human health gratefully acknowledges the support of the Minderoo Foundation, Australia and their support of CR, NC and XW. TG acknowledges support from the Natural Environment Research Council , UK grant NE/S003975/1 .


  • Additives
  • Communication
  • Labelling
  • Plastic
  • Recycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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