The UK government will partner with business to invest in sustainable plastics innovation, including exploring the potential of plastics made from plant material.
The sustainable plastics innovation initiative comes as part of the government’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge, delivered by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund; and will see the government invest £60m (€67.32m), while investment from business entities is expected to reach around £149m (€167.17m). The investment will go towards supporting research and development throughout the supply chain of sustainable plastics innovation, from creating new materials which can perform the same functions as plastic but are less environmentally harmful, to reducing existing levels of plastic waste.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, 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.”
Unilever’s Chief Research and Development Officer Richard Slater said: “Unilever is actively working to reduce the impact of its plastic packaging. Many of the key challenges we face can only be overcome by working in partnership and across the whole system. It’s great to see industry and government coming together to find innovative solutions as part of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge.”
As sustainability becomes an increasingly prevalent concern for consumers, businesses across the UK have devoted increased time and resources to sustainable plastics innovation; as well as eliminating plastic packaging altogether where possible – supermarket chain Sainsbury’s announced yesterday that it would begin to pilot the removal of plastic bags for loose produce in a number of its stores.
Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand, said: “The plastics challenge is one of the greatest issues for our planet, so today’s announcement is fantastic news for retailers like Sainsbury’s that are already committed to reducing single use plastics. But this is an issue that affect all retailers and manufacturers so it’s only by working together that we can make genuine progress and significantly reduce the nation’s reliance on plastic. This fund will act as a catalyst for this ‘coalition of the willing’ to address the research and innovation opportunities together and Sainsbury’s is proud to play our part.”