Here we have it then, it’s Recycle Week and what better way to show our support than by taking the covers off the first set of projects that the ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge is funding over the coming months and, in some cases, years.
I’m writing today about the winners of SSPP’s Feasibility Studies & Industrial Research competition that ran earlier this year. As the Innovation Lead for the competition, I work closely with the applicants and support the funded projects as they get underway.
Investment in increasing reusable plastics and recycling
The funding awarded represents a total investment of around £175,000 in 6-12 month-long early-stage projects that could turn into viable future solutions.
The projects touch on all of the key pillars of the SSPP strategy which seeks to help deliver the UK Plastics Pact by reducing the number of plastic packaging being used, increasing the amount of reusable packaging concepts and systems in place, and improving recycling rates through both behaviour change and better recycling capability.
Meet the winners
Four of the projects are already underway and one is about to kick off:
- Anthropocene Mining, led by Evolve Packaging in collaboration with Cambond, aiming to prove the feasibility of their innovative concept which uses waste plastics destined for burning or landfill and turns them into a new engineered composite material that can, in turn, be used to make new products – helping to increase recycling rates of hard-to-recycle plastics
- CauliBox’s Digitally-Enabled Reusable LUnch-Box Scheme (DERLUBS), led by Cauli in collaboration with Sustainable Venture Development Partners and Westminster City Council, which will develop and trial a digitally-enabled reusable lunchbox in a scheme that rewards sustainable behaviours and replaces single-use plastic packaging at the same time
- CircuPlast - assessment of a novel process technology to enable a circular approach to the management of plastics packaging waste, led by Stopford Projects in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, which seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of new supercritical water technology to enable the recycling of common single-use packaging plastics (PP, PE, LDPE, HDPE and laminates) which today’s recycling infrastructure cannot deal with
- Reath’s Reuse.id, led by Reath, aimed at creating an easily adoptable Open Data Standard (ODS) for a digital passport called "reused.id" combined with software to allow track and trace options for items of packaging – knowledge that will help tackle plastic waste leaking from the system into the environment
- Slip additive for PET plastic packaging (SAP3), led by Croda Europe in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast, which aims to increase the efficiency and sustainability of PET bottle production.
If successful, these projects will deliver exciting, novel and scalable solutions that can, along with SSPP’s other funded projects to date and in the future, resolve some of today’s problems and form part of a brighter future for plastics and our use of them.
Rethink the whole life cycle
Awareness of the problems associated with single-use packaging has increased significantly – but being aware of the problem is only part of the story. The UK (and the world) needs viable solutions and this is what the SSPP team is working to achieve. Plastics will continue to play a critical role in our lives, but we need to change the way we interact with them. This requires a wholesale change in the way we design products and packaging, select materials and production processes, use what has been made and what happens at the end of that life cycle.
UK’s pioneering history
The UK has a long history of pioneering new ways of doing things that go on to become the global standard – this is an opportunity to do more of that and, in doing so, solve a major environmental challenge. Innovate UK’s work over the last decade is proof (as if it were needed) that innovation is key to economic growth – and clean growth is the best way we can recover from the trials and tribulations of 2020.
It’s time for positive change
The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge runs until 2025 and will represent a total public investment of £60 million. UKRI and Innovate UK will be measuring both the short and longer-term impact of the Challenge as it progresses and beyond.
Our ambition is to drive substantial positive change towards sustainable and more circular use of plastic packaging. Time will tell how well we do but, crucially, our success relies on today’s and tomorrow’s innovators - we need to fund more projects!
The competition opens on 26 October
SSPP has new competition opening on 26 October and in the first quarter of next year, catering for new embryonic concepts to the demonstration of big ideas at scale, so if you are (or could become) a business with ideas you need help to bring to life, sign up to the UK Circular Plastics Network (UKCPN),(it’s free) and keep your eyes peeled.
Investing For Impact
The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) is the Government and UKRI’s £2.6 billion flagship, business-led challenge fund. By demonstrating our achievements through the SSPP Challenge, we are representing Investing for Impact and highlighting how the Challenge Fund is playing its part to build a strong economic and environmentally sustainable future for the UK.
You can read the Introductory blog Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund - Investing for Impact about the Challenge Fund and our Investing for Impact campaign.
You can go to the Innovate UK website
You can go to the UKRI website