The aim of this programme is to 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 significant reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.
Plastics have revolutionised the way we live. For many consumer products, it is the plastic packaging that ensures quality, longevity and safety. However, the volume and durability of plastic packaging have significant consequences and the UK needs to urgently address growing concern about the environmental, social and economic impact of the use of plastic packaging and its disposal post-consumption.
Plastic is likely to continue to have an important role as a packaging material in everyday consumer items. The challenge is to find ways to ensure the plastic packaging we use is easily recyclable, can be used multiple times, and is not released to the environment.
The smart sustainable plastic packaging (SSPP) challenge aims to 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 significant reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.
The purpose of this enabling research funding opportunity is to support research that addresses widely understood problems in relation to plastic packaging, whose solutions are unknown today, but which if solved, will remove existing barriers to fundamental systems change, and make an important contribution to achieving the objectives of the SSPP challenge.
With investments from the UKRI Challenge Fund, UKRI are working with the academic community, businesses and innovators to drive the transition to smart sustainable plastics.
The SSPP Challenge
The SSPP Challenge is funded by the UKRI Challenge Fund, the UK government’s flagship, challenge-led, innovation programme.
The UKRI Challenge Fund is a collective fund, aiming to bring together the UK’s world-leading research base and our most innovative businesses to solve the major industrial and societal challenges of our time.
The SSPP Challenge seeks to deliver sustainable environmental, societal or economic benefits. Aligned to the government’s clean growth grand challenge and UKRI Challenge Fund objectives, the SSPP Challenge seeks to make a significant contribution to the UK target of 2.4% of GDP in research and innovation spend, with SSPP innovation recognised internationally as a UK strength, and source of export growth and inward investment.
The SSPP Challenge has three workstreams.
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 workstreams.
Up to £8 million is 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.
Dynamic and collaborative research and development (R&D)
Up to £50 million is available for funding of industry-led, multi-disciplinary collaborative R&D projects, and multi-partner consortia scale-up and deployment of demonstrators to develop new technologies at scale and support their adoption by industry.
The aim of the enabling research workstream is to support research that addresses widely understood problems in relation to plastic packaging, whose solutions are unknown today, but which if solved will unlock existing barriers to fundamental systems change, and make an important contribution to achieving the objectives of the SSPP Challenge.
The specific SSPP programme objectives that apply to the enabling research workstream are to:
- deliver innovative research and innovation to support more sustainable plastic packaging in line with the UK Plastics Pact targets
- increase UK plastic packaging supply chain collaboration in order to improve sustainability
- increase understanding of environmental impacts of existing and new plastic packaging to inform new and improved design, technologies and processes
- increase understanding of behaviour on the sustainability of plastic packaging to inform new and improved design, technologies, processes and business models.
The SSPP Challenge requires research questions and research outputs to be framed in the context of their impact on activities and environmental consequences across the plastic packaging supply chain.