We all deserve long-lasting, repairable products that are free of dangerous chemicals.

The People’s Design Lab gives you a voice on how to improve product design to make zero waste come true.

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Category Overpackaging

805 votes

Plastic food packaging

Plastic food packaging accounts for 40% of the annual 49 million tonnes of plastic consumed in Europe, making it the most common use of plastic. Much of this plastic packaging is neither reusable nor recyclable, and it contains many chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, linked to diseases such as cancer and infertility.

Bad design of plastic packaging contributes to the loss of EUR 75-112 billion of plastic packaging material from the economy every year, equivalent to the GDPs of Slovakia and Hungary combined.


Zero Waste Europe published a report highlighting how plastic packaging is failing to reduce food waste. In some cases, it may even fuel food waste, while simultaneously adding to the vast quantities of unrecyclable plastic waste polluting our environment.

Packaging-free shops are becoming more popular in many cities across Europe, with increasing numbers of retailers phasing-out plastic packaging and selling products in bulk. In France, for example, packaging-free producers, manufacturers, distributors and shops have joined forces to create the network Réseau Vrac to promote and develop bulk sales. Curious to learn more about their work? Listen to this podcast with Réseau Vrac’s director Célia Rennesson (in French).

Category Designed for trash

345 votes

Plastic bags

Every European uses an average of 175 single-use plastic bags per year, making a total of more than 87 billion per year in the EU alone. Their exponential growth, short life and numerous adverse effects on the environment have made the single-use plastic bag an icon of both poor design and our throwaway culture.  

Where it has been implemented, EU legislation has successfully reduced single-use plastic bags in favour of reusable and environmentally friendly alternatives. For example, the Plastic Bag Directive resulted in a reduction of 85% in six months in England. In Italy, among others, a graduated ban (with exemptions for lightweight and bio-based bags) reduced plastic bag consumption by 50% within three years.



International Plastic-Bag Free Day takes place every year on 3 July. All around the world, people take action to raise awareness and call on their governments to phase out single-use plastic bags. Check out the 2018 edition and get inspired!

Category Single-use plastics

335 votes


One million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. This will increase by 20% by 2021. Although plastic bottles are recyclable, fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling, and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead, most plastic bottles end up in landfill or in the ocean.


Reusable bottles are already easily available and increasingly used.


However, refill stations for water are not always available. Join the Refill movement, which has succeeded in getting decision makers to install refill fountains in cities such as Bristol, and encourage your local authority to do the same.

Category Toxic products

496 votes

Food contact material

Many chemicals are present in the materials that come into contact with food, such as packaging. These chemicals can easily leach or migrate into food, especially when exposed to high temperatures or when contact times are long. Once in our food, they enter our bodies.

Hazardous chemicals are used in all materials. For example, endocrine disruptors such as BPA are used to make certain plastics, as well as the internal coating of aluminium and metal cans and the lids of glass jars and bottles.

Certain hazardous chemicals are banned or restricted for product use yet are allowed for materials that are in contact with food. It is estimated that 58 chemicals recognised as “Substances of Very High Concern” are permitted in food contact materials. In addition, EU laws cover only five of the 17 different types of food contact materials, with paper and cardboard, for example, remaining unregulated.


Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) are of great concern, since they are linked to cancer, reproductive problems, diabetes, learning disorders and asthma, to name a few. A large number of NGOs have created the EDC-Free Europe coalition, which has put together a strategy on steps the EU should take to protect citizens from hormone-disrupting chemicals.

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