Funding for consumer plastic packaging innovation

Recycle waste management

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has invested almost £2 million in 14 projects to address consumer problems with plastic packaging.

Awarded funding through the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge, these projects will develop better options for future plastic packaging whether you’re in the kitchen, the bathroom or on the move.

Consumers will continue to be able to enjoy some of their favourite products and use essential medicines, with a lower impact on the planet.

This research and development investment will reach regions across the UK, including:

  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales.

Alternative consumer packaging

To date, the challenge has invested over £30 million for innovation in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products.

Projects include a number of new bio-based, high-performance polymers which have the potential to replace the current oil-based plastic packaging materials in multiple applications for everyday consumer products.

Funding will also help prototype new cleaning product ranges in reusable and refillable packaging, which when disposed of, will create significantly lower CO2 emissions than single-use alternatives.

Project summaries

Loopy Products Ltd

Recently featured on Dragons Den for their eco cleaning products, Loopy Products Ltd is set to develop a formula for the first-ever tableted dish soap. It would replace the 500ml dish soap plastic bottles and instead, be dissolved by the consumer at home.

Central Pharma Contract Packaging Limited

A project led by Central Pharma Contract Packaging Limited will create a circular system enabling 100% of medicine blister packs to be recyclable with convenient public drop-off points.

The Ocean Bottle Ltd

The Ocean Bottle Ltd, which created reusable bottles made from ocean-bound, recyclable Bisphenol A (BPA)-free plastic, will design and test the first ever customer loyalty platform that incentives refills, using guaranteed plastics collection.

Improving public information

Funding also goes to some of the UK’s most active not-for-profit organisations working to improve public information and resources to implement reuse and refill.

WRAP aim to improve our understanding of how to make refill solutions work for the ‘big weekly shop’, including the full journey from home to store.

Projects led by OPRL and Recoup will deliver solutions, such as effective labelling systems and communications strategies. These will make it easier for the public to know how and where to properly recycle their plastic packaging.

Recoup will be working with 13 Kent councils and around 1.5 million residents to evaluate the understanding and effectiveness of communications related to recycling.

The 14 projects will engage with an extensive network of stakeholders from the plastic packaging value chain to develop solutions for the complete plastic packaging lifecycle, including:

  • production
  • design
  • recycling
  • reuse.

These projects will bring together some of the UK’s most pioneering start-ups with our largest consumer brands, and highly respected organisations seeking to shift attitudes and behaviours towards plastic waste.

Changing behaviours

Paul Davidson, Challenge Director for the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge, said:

We are funding some really smart innovations for consumer packaging. When these projects move into the distribution phase, we are going to see some big changes in how we shop, our experiences with food packaging and what we understand to be plastic packaging.

A change in our behaviour will be the driving point for this change in moving from single-use plastics to reuse, refill and recyclable solutions.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

People want to be able to buy products that are better for the environment and use less plastic. This fund is helping to create new packaging materials that are less harmful to the planet, as well as packaging for products that can either be refilled or easily recycled at home.

This innovation will help us reach our goal of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2024 and builds on our landmark Environment Bill which will let us introduce deposit return schemes for plastic drinks containers and make companies more responsible for the packaging they produce.

The final round of funding from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge is open to applications. Apply now.

Further information

About the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge

The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) programme aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products. This includes £60 million in funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) which will be complemented by £149 million from industry.

The challenge will deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025. Part of this funding will develop and demonstrate at scale new business models for reuse and refill as well as behavioural change.

Full list of winners

  • Biome: a disruptive alternative to plastic packaging materials, exploring the potential of cyanobacteria derived exopolysaccharides as novel, biodegradable and edible biopolymers (CyoBPoly) (Southampton and Nottingham)
  • Blow Moulding Technologies Ltd: optimisation of plastic packaging through computer aided design (Northern Ireland)
  • Central Pharma Contract Packaging Limited:  Central Pharma recycling creating a circular economy for pharmaceutical packaging (Bedfordshire)
  • Cornish Farm Dairy Limited: galaxy re-usable milk bottle for supermarkets (Cornwall)
  • Impact Laboratories Limited: BioMide: bio produced nylon to enable recyclable multilayer film packaging (Scotland)
  • Jara Partnership Ltd: Jara Partnership Ltd personal care pods (Guildford)
  • Loopy Products Limited: developing a solution to eliminate dish soap plastic packaging (London)
  • Notpla Limited: Notpla pearls: a seaweed based alternative to plastic packaging in the cosmetics industry (London)
  • OPRL Limited: Plastic Packaging Portal (PPP) (London)
  • PlantSea LTD: PlantSea-Pack (Wales)
  • Recycling of used Plastics Limited: Kent understanding plastics ‘live lab’ up project (Kent)
  • The Ocean Bottle LTD: Ocean Bottle plastic collection impact loyalty programme (London)
  • WRAP: behaviour change interventions to increase citizen participation in reuse and refill systems (Leeds)
  • Xampla LTD: consumable plastic packaging (Cambridge).

Top image:  Credit: ABimagestudio / Getty Images

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