£3.2m funding for innovation in plastic packaging

The UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge has today (28 March) announced almost £3.2 million in funding for 17 projects.

The funding awards announced today through SSPP’s Future Plastic Packaging Solutions II competition will support a broad range of innovation projects aiming to increase rates of reduction, reuse and recycling. UKRI says the winners have ‘the potential to alter the UK’s relationship with, and management of, plastic packaging’.

Club Zero packaging solution
CLUBZERØ’s (CupClub Ltd) is one of the projects to receive funding from the SSPP Challenge.
Paul Davidson, Challenge Director for UKRI’s 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.”

Winning projects of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge

The projects fall into three categories:

  • Alternative materials
  • Stimulating reuse and refill
  • Increased recycling and plastic pollution mapping

Five of the winning projects which fall under ‘alternative materials’ have been awarded funding to assess the viability of a range of different plant-based biodegradable polymers to replace fossil fuel-based plastic to develop new ‘plastic-free’ packaging for a range of food, and personal and cleaning products.

The five winners in the ‘stimulating reuse and refill’ category will explore how to stimulate more reuse and refill and reduce single-use plastic packaging, both in our day-to-day grocery shopping and for food and drinks consumed ‘on the go’. They explore different aspects of the challenge, including consumer perception and behaviour, cleaning and hygiene, and logistics.

There are seven project winners in the ‘increased recycling and plastic pollution mapping’ category. Six focus on enhancing the UK’s plastics recycling and stimulating the use of recycled plastics. The innovations being explored include new sorting and recycling technology and novel digital approaches to packaging design and ‘nudging’ consumer recycling behaviour at home. The final project will use satellite data and Artificial Intelligence to build a global plastic map to support the tracking and removal of marine plastic pollution.

UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge

The SSPP Challenge aims to make plastic packaging fit for a sustainable future. As a £60 million five-year programme, it is the largest UK government investment to date in sustainable plastics research and innovation. It reflects the urgent need for action to reduce the environmental footprint of plastics and eradicate plastic pollution.

The challenge brings together academia and the industry. It is underpinned by the delivery of the 2025 UK Plastics Pact targets. SSPP’s ambition is to establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products to drive cleaner growth across the supply chain, and deliver a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering.

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