UK: £3.2 million allocated to foster innovations in plastics reduction

UK: £3.2 million allocated to foster innovations in plastics reduction

Sustainability

UKRI's Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge is funding seventeen groundbreaking projects that have the potential to significantly transform the UK’s approach to plastic packaging.

These projects will support a diverse range of innovative solutions, such as encouraging consumers to switch to refillable and reusable options, exploring new edible and biodegradable bio-based materials, utilising advanced recycling technologies, and mapping plastic pollution.

As the largest government investment into sustainable plastic packaging, these projects will contribute to achieving the UK Plastics Pact.

The projects can be divided into three categories:

  1. Alternative materials: Five projects will assess the feasibility of various plant-based biodegradable polymers to replace fossil fuel-based plastics. These projects aim to develop ‘plastic-free’ packaging for food, personal care, and cleaning products, as well as more recyclable takeaway packaging solutions. This has the potential to reduce conventional plastic usage and decrease difficult-to-recycle plastic waste.
  2. Stimulating reuse and refill: Five other projects will explore how to encourage more reuse and refill and reduce single-use plastic packaging for grocery shopping and ‘on the go’ consumption. These projects will investigate different aspects of the challenge, including consumer behaviour, hygiene, and logistics.
  3. Increased recycling and plastic pollution mapping: The remaining six projects will focus on improving the UK’s plastics recycling and promoting the use of recycled plastics. These projects will investigate new sorting and recycling technology, digital approaches to packaging design, and encouraging consumer recycling behaviour. Additionally, one project will use satellite data and artificial intelligence to create a global plastic map to help track and remove marine plastic pollution.
Paul Davidson, Challenge Director for the SSPP challenge, said: "SSPP is working to make plastic packaging fit for a sustainable future, supporting over 70 research and innovation projects focused on consumer plastic packaging. Taken together, these latest SSPP-funded projects offer up exciting opportunities to tackle plastic packaging waste holistically by reducing it at source, encouraging the rollout of reuse and refill business models, and driving more effective and sophisticated recycling and pollution monitoring and measuring."

Overall, these projects will contribute to significant advancements in sustainable plastic packaging, paving the way for a more sustainable future.

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