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Tackling the plastics problem

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is in the unique position of sponsoring a broad range of research and innovation that can contribute to solving the plastic waste problem.

Plastics Research and Innovation Fund

The £20 million Plastics Research and Innovation Fund (PRIF) aims to explore new ideas and innovations that can bring changes in the UK’s plastics manufacturing and consumption patterns.

PRIF engages Britain’s best scientists and innovators to help move the country towards more circular economic and sustainable approaches to plastics.

It is managed by UKRI and delivered via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). .

The fund has three parts which involve:

  • Leadership and Knowledge Exchange ~ £2 million
  • Research: Plastics ‘Creativity’ funding ~ £8 million
  • Business led research and development: Plastics ‘Innovation’ funding ~ £10 million

The fund seeks to deliver strategic networking and research that will coordinate existing knowledge across the UK; catalysing new ideas and rapid solutions across the research and innovation landscape. It will support the polymer, packaging, retail and waste sectors as well as local government responsible for waste collection. 

Plastics innovation: towards zero waste

UKRI and Policy Connect are collaborating on Zero Plastic Waste, an event series to examine how to achieve the vision of Zero Plastic Waste and make the UK a global leader on the issue. 

Explore the infographic below to find out how UKRI is helping the UK work towards a zero plastic waste solution.

Zero waste poster

Downloadable PDF (PDF, 2.5MB)

You can learn more about these events in our video: Research and innovation for zero plastic waste.


Creative Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastics Waste

Eight research projects that will explore new and different ways of making, using and recycling plastics were announced in December 2018.

The researchers will investigate alternatives to fossil-based materials for plastics, as well as looking into the complex factors involved in the life cycle of plastic materials, from consumers' and business' needs and behaviours, to how to use technology to reclaim or break down plastics.

Through the recently published Bioeconomy Strategy, part of the government's modern Industrial Strategy, producing less carbon intensive products, including plastics, was identified as a key challenge area alongside reducing plastic waste. This will lead to a circular economy where greater emphasis is placed on 'use, reuse and recycle'.

Find out more about the projects here.

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