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Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging

This challenge will establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.

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Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging

What is the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge?

Around 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced annually and this is expected to triple by 2050. After a short first-use cycle, 95% of plastic packaging, or £62–94Bn p.a, is lost to the economy. Both academia and the media have highlighted that this plastic waste, especially single-use packaging, is a significant environmental pollutant. Between 8-12 million tonnes per annum enter the marine environment and can persist for centuries, causing physical and chemical pollution that harms wildlife and may risk human health. The government has recognised the need for intervention to address this national and global challenge.

  • The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) programme will establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.
  • The SSPP programme will tackle the challenge of plastic pollution in the environment through the development of a more sustainable plastic packaging value chain in the UK.
  • SSPP will drive research and innovation to develop more sustainable plastic packaging materials and designs, new recycling processes and infrastructure, integrated circular supply chains combined with consumer behaviour insights to achieve a reduction in the negative environmental impacts caused by plastic packaging.

What’s the investment?

The SSPP programme is funded by £60 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which is expected to be matched by funding of up to £149 million from industry. 

What are the opportunities?

The challenge will deliver strategic leadership and a co-ordinated programme of research and innovation for the design, production, supply, recovery and recycling of plastic packaging across the entire value chain. These innovative solutions will be conceived to deliver both a positive environmental benefit and be economically viable delivering:

  • new, recyclable materials;
  • new designs for consumer-friendly packaging, with improved functionality and sustainability
  • new/improved recycling technologies and processes to recover packaging after its use;
  • new/improved supply chain and business models based on the above;
  • improved understanding of environmental impacts of existing and new plastics to inform the above; and improved understanding of consumer requirements and behaviours to inform the above.

UK Circular Plastic Network

UK Circular Plastic Network supported by UK Research and Innovation, engages Britain’s best scientists and innovators to help move the country towards more circular economic and sustainable approaches to plastics through a programme of networking and knowledge-sharing events and related support activities. To find out more and register, please visit: UK Circular Plastic Network.

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