Innovative plastic-free packaging projects to receive £3.2 million

plastic factory and recycling hub
Image: © Group4 Studio | iStock

UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge (SSPP) is funding plastic-free packaging innovation projects for a range of food, personal and cleaning products

Seventeen ground-breaking projects are to lead the UK away from traditional approaches to research and innovation, toward plastic-free packaging.

The UK government investment of £3.2 million is a part of the SSPP funding initiative developing innovative non-polluting packaging for a variety of consumer products, including food, personal care, and cleaning products.

Their goal is to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste while also promoting sustainable economic growth in the UK. The SSPP is part of the UK government’s efforts to join the circular economy.

What is the SSPP Challenge funding used for?

  • Feasibility studies
  • Industrial and academic research
  • Business-led R&D
  • Large scale demonstrators

The funding supports new packaging materials and designs, improved recycling and reuse methods. These projects will go on to support the achievement of the UK Plastics Pact, set to cut down on difficult-to-recycle plastic waste that ends up in the bin.

SSPP has deployed almost £60m of public funding

Since its inception in 2020, SSPP has deployed almost £60m of public funding, leveraging over £149m of private money.

With eight of the seventeen funding competitions completed, five other funding winners will stimulate more reuse and refill and reduce single-use plastic packaging, both in our day-to-day grocery shopping and for food and drinks consumed ‘on the go’.

SSPP has leveraged over £149m of private money

Many of these projects use plant-based biodegradable polymers to replace fossil fuel-based plastics, sitting across the waste hierarchy to make plastic packaging fit for a sustainable future. This waste hierarchy scheme includes:

  • Encouraging consumers to move to refill and reuse
  • New edible and biodegradable bio-based materials
  • Advanced recycling technologies
  • Plastic pollution mapping

Stimulating the use of recycled plastics

These projects explore many factors of the plastic-free packaging, including consumer perception and behaviour, cleaning and hygiene, and logistics.

And are sorted and recycled with technology and novel digital approaches, improving packaging design and encourage consumer recycling behaviour at home.

One of the larger projects will use satellite data and artificial intelligence to build a global plastic map to support the tracking and removal of marine plastic pollution.

Paul Davidson, Challenge Director for the SSPP challenge, said: “SSPP is working to make plastic packaging fit for a sustainable future, supporting over 70 research and innovation projects focused on consumer plastic packaging.

“Taken together, these latest SSPP-funded projects offer up exciting opportunities to tackle plastic packaging waste holistically by reducing it at source, encouraging the rollout of reuse and refill business models, and driving more effective and sophisticated recycling and pollution monitoring and measuring.”


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