Challenge

Innovate UK funds sustainable plastic packaging projects

| Business function | Innovate UK | Swindon | United Kingdom

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £1 million from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Programme for early-stage projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging. 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. Its goals are to deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.

The aim of this competition is to support innovation to deliver a more circular economy for plastic packaging in order to deliver on the following SSPP Challenge objectives:

  1. Unlock a significant overall increase in research and innovation (R&I) spend (government and industry).
  2. Deliver R&I to support more sustainable plastic packaging in line with the UK Plastics Pact targets.
  3. Increase UK plastic packaging supply chain collaboration

The participant must explain how you are innovating to contribute to the UK meeting one or more of the UK Plastics Pact targets:

  1. 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  2. 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted.
  3. 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.
  4. Take actions to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging items through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models.

The participant's proposal must take a systems perspective, use a lifecycle approach and consider the environment impacts. Read the supporting information to understand the definitions we are using of these terms.

The methodology and models applied to the project should be validated and endorsed by a national and/or international agency, such as the Environment Agency in the UK or the European Environment Agency in Europe.

The company is looking to fund a portfolio of projects, spread across the main themes of the Challenge programme which are materials, design, technology and process, and business model.

Specific themes

The participant's proposal must focus on plastic packaging as the primary application but also include one or more of the following 4 innovation themes.

Materials innovation, for example:

  • new, recyclable polymer materials
  • biopolymers
  • improving ‘compatibilisation’ (making it easier to use more recycled content) alternatives to plastics for current packaging applications (for example, mycelium materials to replace expanded polystyrene) where plastic is the only current option

Design innovation, for example:

  • design for recyclability
  • design for reuse
  • making food delivery and other delivery packaging more recyclable
  • marking and identification technologies to make sorting easier

Technology and process innovation, for example:

  • reuse processes (for example cleaning)
  • collection
  • sorting and separation
  • mechanical recycling
  • chemical recycling
  • anaerobic digestion (AD) or composting of compostable packaging

Business model innovation, for example:

  • reusable packaging systems, for example refill
  • zero packaging business models and systems
  • consumer or business behavioural change

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