The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has launched two new competitions for the development of smarter plastics that are “greener, safer and more easily recyclable,” the organisation announced 16 Jan.
Part of the government-backed Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge programme, the competitions have earmarked up to £8m (€9.3m) of funding to help researchers develop recycling systems that can cope with rising volumes of waste and enable academics to analyse how package design impacts consumer behaviour.
The SSPP programme aims to establish the UK as “an innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products”, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain by 2025.
The programme is funded by £60 million from the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is to be matched by funding of up to £149 million from industry.
Targeting both academia and the industry, the UKRI competitions which were launched 16 Jan, will be awarded to new production and packaging techniques that enhance the longevity of the next generation of plastics packaging and make reduction, reuse and recycling easier.
The ‘Enabling Research’ challenge aims to promote academic-led research that can best support the overall aims of the SSPP, said URKI.
The second competition is for early-stage business-led projects that have adopted a lifecycle approach to plastics packaging.
“We have reached a critical point when it comes to saving our planet from the plague of plastic pollution. Tackling climate change is this government’s priority and we were the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050,” said Chris Skidmore, Science Minister.
UKRI also launched two competitions in December last year as part of the SSPP challenge.
Those projects focused on finding prototypes for a new generation of plastic packaging and offered £12m in funding for demonstrations of sustainable plastic packaging and further funding for a feasibility study to develop proposals for future demo projects.