Delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the funding could help develop:
- new forms of packaging and plastic – made from farming, food and industrial waste, like sugar beet, wood chippings and food waste – moving away from oil-based plastics
- smart packaging labels – which, alongside a smart bin, could tell consumers the right bin to put recycling into and revolutionise the way recycling is sorted in waste plants
- ‘live’ sell-by-date patch – a living sell-by-date which deteriorates at the same rate as produce to show consumers when their food is going off – cutting down on food waste
- reduce single use plastics – increase use of recycled plastic in new products
Businesses will be able to access this funding through UKRI managed competitions to meet the challenge of developing smart sustainable plastic packaging.
This investment is subject to industry entering into partnership with government and providing significant co-investment to this challenge.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “Finding innovative solutions to tackle our use of harmful plastics which blight our land and seas is a major global challenge, and opportunity – one our nation of researchers and innovators is fit to seize.
“Today’s funding and sector strategy enhances our position as a global leader on improving our environment and tackling climate change.
It will make us a beacon for design, manufacturing and exporting of sustainable plastics and environmentally-friendly replacements for polluting products as we move to a greener, cleaner economy – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”
The UK is recognised as best in the world for researching solutions to tackling plastic waste and bioscience, with £140 million already invested in sustainable plastics over the last three years.
The UK government is committed to being a global leader in tackling the issue of plastic pollution, with a world-leading ban on microbeads and 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, which has seen distribution by major supermarkets drop by 86%.
Earlier this year it also launched its plan to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds to protect our rivers and seas
The UK also pledgedto introduce a deposit return scheme do drive up recycling of single use drinks containers, subject to consultation.
The UK government has also shown its global leadership by committing a £61.4 million package of funding to boost global research and help countries across the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering the oceans in the first place.