New forms of packaging and plastic made from plants, wood chippings and food waste could be a step closer, the UK government has said.
Building on the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which sets out its plans to overhaul the waste system, cut plastic pollution, and move towards a more circular economy, a £60 million government investment, alongside £149 million from businesses, has been announced to help fight the global battle against single use plastics.
The announcement is part of the government’s Clean Growth Challenge, which is being delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Funding could be used to find ways to cut waste in the supply chain, develop new business models and create new sustainable recyclable materials. This could include using plants instead of oils to make plastic, which will help reduce their carbon impact.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said:
“We have all seen the enormous damage being caused by single-use plastics across the world. The race is on to develop new effective and practical solutions to end the scourge of single use plastics, helping protect our planet for future generations.
“We have put a record level of research and development investment at the heart of our Industrial Strategy – investing to support our best minds and businesses in developing the solutions and industries of tomorrow.
“This government and business co-investment clearly demonstrates that when it comes to cutting plastics pollution there is a shared ambition. This is a unique opportunity for our world-leading businesses and innovators to develop the materials of the future with the potential to transform our economy as well as our environment.”
Around 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced annually and if left unchecked, this is expected to triple by 2050. The government says investment through the modern Industrial Strategy is already backing the development of plastics made from plants, and products that degrade easily.
Alongside this funding announcement, the government has also published a call for evidence on standards for these materials, known as bio-based and biodegradable plastics. It seeks evidence from scientists, manufacturers and the research community, on the sustainability and wider impacts of biodegradable, compostable, and bio-based plastics and asks whether new and improved standards and labelling for these materials would be valuable.
UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said:
“Plastic pollution is a global crisis that affects our oceans and our land. The new investment through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging solutions, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.”
We are encouraging our packaging compliance members to consider making changes to packaging now to avoid the future costs of inaction. We can help by looking at your data, the packaging you use and the opportunities for reducing the impact of packaging. Get in touch to find out how our team can help you prepare for the changes ahead.