6 December 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

Funding offered for plastic waste research

Up to £60 million government funding has been announced for projects aimed at tackling plastic waste.

The announcement of funding came yesterday from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, as part of its Bioeconomy Strategy: 2018 to 2030.

Yesterday, BEIS published its Bioeconomy Strategy: 2018 to 2030


According to BEIS, the funding – to be bolstered by industry support and delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – 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.

Waste Strategy

BEIS said the government is also looking at further ways to reduce avoidable waste and recycle more as part of its Resources and Waste Strategy to be published shortly.

“Government will look to utilise assets to their full potential, accelerating progress so that the UK is a place where maximum value is extracted from sustainable resources at all stages of use, including minimising the creation of waste,” the strategy notes.

According to BEIS, the new Resources and Waste Strategy will set out how the government’s ambition of zero avoidable waste by 2050 will be achieved.

“It will seek to maximise resource productivity, reduce waste in our resource systems and promote well-functioning markets for secondary materials and incentivise producers to design better products.”

‘Innovative solutions’

Speaking yesterday, 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.”

Related links
Bioeconomy strategy


Is this is a reasonable use of Tax Payers’ Money?

There are two issues here that are in the greatest minds of developers and entrepreneurial organisations and companies.

1] Dealing with Oil-Based Plastics,
2] The provision of Bioplastics, Biobased Plastics, Bio-degradable Plastics.

1] Dealing with Oil Based-Plastics.

Here there are many provisions already in place to manage the plastics after collection, however there is still the intention by many to recycle and remake these into further plastics using the collected materials added to new oil-based products.

Is this latter issue still a necessity? If you were the manufacturers and associated with the major oil companies you would still want to do this! There is little, if any, will to change! It is the fundamental issue behind the understanding of existing uses of oil-based plastics and it needs managing and rethinking – an “outside the box” approach is required!

We have looked at this from a company perspective an d the reality is that although there are plans in place to reduce oil-based plastic consumption tinkering at the edges will not work. One way would be to stop the reprocessing after collection at source and convert the plastic to a replacement fuel, and capture the carbon content for interment into farm lands and forests. The company we are working with – in the Netherlands Sweden Italy Germany and a small contingency in the UK has a procedure to do this. It takes the random mix of plastics collected here (these being collected from oceans, rivers, lakes as well as from municipal areas) and is in discussions with major Funders – mainly from the EU and the Far East in the PRC, Japan and Korea, about closing funds for a number of programmes which will use its own Intellectual Property and Technology Rights (IP and TR) and thus commence a number of design and construct and operate programmes around the European Union (EU) – outside of the UK – in the wider Europe-Asian area, un the Far East, in Africa and South America. This open development will run into several €uro 1000s Millions and is being fast-tracked to start building in the next two years.

2] The provision of Bioplastics, Biobased Plastics, Bio-degradable Plastics.

This issue is the one with the greatest potential by far.

The Company which has been working extensively on this through its joint offices in the Netherlands Italy Germany Greece and the UK with support from the wider Learned Education centres in the EU (outside of the UK) has under its grasp a series of developments here.

The first is a series of Bioplastics which can be modified and have built in to their structures a time-based destruction system which can decompose these in any interval after use ranging from a few hours (in very specialist uses) to specified times of weeks or months and even years. Obviously such a control issue us part of the design and the IP and TR.

The second as Biobased Plastics is an extension of this development whereby the plastics when produced will be natural replacements for the current oil-based versions. They will have designs for similar properties as the oil-based versions.

IN the third issue it is obvious that the degradability of organic based plastics is a need since it would be irresponsible making new plastics which are non-bio-gradable. Here the Company has developed a scenario wherein -as stated previously – the plastics can be bio-degraded totally after use and converted back to organic-based fuels with a major shift to Hydrogen and the capture of Carbon.

The reasoning for this is that the source materials can be obtained from wasted biomass that is cleaned before use and the use of inorganic inhibitors us removed entirely. These plastics as defined are defined under the IP and TR issues held by the company and which will be used un the next two years in major developments ranging from general use (low-value) plastics to those of higher use to replace glass and metallic containers in the food storage industry or in the drinks industry, and also in pharmaceutical and medicinal uses where there exists a high-valued usage.

Amongst these uses in Africa and the poorest nations around the world is the development of Bio-based materials to make sanitary products (towels and the likes) where the waterproof materials are made from Bio-plastics and the external layer is a thin film of extremely water-proof Bioplastic which is applied by spray application to the absorbent materials.

Again the company has had great interests from outside of the UK (un the EU and the Far East) about the developments in the next two years and for the funding of programmes in development (totalling over €864 Million) with much support from interested major Environmental organisations.

So we ask again, us this proposed funding of any use when it is for research rather than development?

Posted by David Hamilton on December 7, 2018

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