The government has announced a multimillion pound fund to support the development of innovative new packaging technologies that help reduce the use of single-use plastic.
Businesses will be able to access up to £60m of funding for innovations such as new forms of packaging made from food waste that can produce environmentally-friendly plastic bags and cups.
Other examples include smart packaging labels which can tell people the right bin to put recycling into and help revolutionise the way recycling is sorted in waste plants; and ‘live’ sell-by-date patches which deteriorate at the same rate as produce to show consumers when their food is going off.
The funding, which is subject to the industry providing significant co-investment, will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Businesses will be able to access the funding through UKRI managed competitions to meet the challenge of developing smart sustainable plastic packaging.
The funding pledge marked the launch of the government’s long-awaited bioeconomy strategy, which “sets out an ambition for world-leading standards for bio-based and biodegradable plastics, to create new sustainable materials and reduce the impact of plastics on the environment”, according to a statement from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
BEIS said its vision was for “the UK to build on its world leading science and research base to become a global leader in finding innovative alternatives to fossil fuel-based products, using sources ranging from the by-products of whisky production to seaweed”.