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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 (1). 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 environmental benefits and be economically viable.

The programme has 3 work-streams

  • Core Programme: Up to £2 million available that will deliver leadership and foster collaboration between industry, academia and government by convening and commissioning workshops and networking activity, and collecting, synthesising and disseminating results from across the SSPP work streams. 

 

  • Enabling Research: Up to £8m available for a series of grants to establish a balanced portfolio of academic-led research and development to address known problems and knowledge gaps in relation to plastic packaging, working with project partners and actors from across the supply chain, where relevant.

The call is led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) on behalf of UKRI. Research projects from any discipline supported by UKRI are welcomed and encouraged to apply. 

More details about the academic funding call are available here.

 
  • Dynamic and Collaborative R&D: Up to £50m available funding of industry-led multi-disciplinary Collaborative R&D (CR&D) projects, and multi-partner consortia scale-up and deployment of demonstrators to develop new technologies at scale and support their adoption by industry.

Find out more about funding

 

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.

Related content

(1.) World Economic Forum, 2016