Making plastic packaging more sustainable: apply for funding

Plastic recycling

Businesses can apply for a share of up to £2 million to support projects that investigate how to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic packaging.

The UK uses around 5 million tonnes a year of plastic, almost half of which is for plastic packaging.

Most plastic waste does not decompose. It can last for centuries in landfill, and there are increasing concerns about the amount of plastic in the environment, polluting land, rivers, and seas.

Worldwide marine plastic pollution alone is expected to treble to 150 million tonnes by 2025 if nothing is done.

The UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge seeks to dramatically reduce plastic waste by 2025. It has up to £60 million to invest in projects that aim to make the UK a leader in smart and sustainable plastic packaging.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, has up to £2 million from the fund to invest in early-stage projects investigating ways to reduce, reuse or recycle plastic packaging.

Find out more about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Aim is for more circular economy in plastics

The competition will support ideas that help to meet the targets of the UK Plastics Pact, which include for 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

It is looking for early-stage feasibility projects and industrial research.

Projects could work across several themes including:

  • packaging suitable for reuse, refill and online delivery
  • marking and tracking of packaging to improve supply chain circularity or sustainability
  • films and flexibles in packaging applications
  • low-carbon, non-fossil polymers for packaging applications
  • business models leading to reduced waste plastic going to landfill
  • behaviour change leading to less packaging waste or higher recycling rates
  • food grade plastic packaging in the UK marketplace
  • diverting small format and medical packaging from incineration.

Competition information

  • the competition is open, and the deadline for applications is at 11am on 20 January 2021
  • businesses of any size, non-government bodies, charities and not-for-profits can apply and can work alone or with other organisations and researchers
  • grants could range in size between £50,000 and £150,000
  • projects can last up to 18 months
  • a briefing event takes place on 3 November 2020.

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