18 November 2020 by Robyn White

UKRI invests £8m into plastic waste projects  

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has awarded £8 million of funding to ten university-led research projects that aim to tackle plastic waste in the UK.

The leg of funding comes from the £60 million Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) programme, announced by the government in 2018.

This aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products.


The funds will be split between projects which are focused on reducing plastic waste, including researching ways of increasing compostable plastic use, utilising smart-technology to change “food-to-go” packaging and creating new circular approaches to plastic waste management.

The funds forms part of the £60 million Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging programme

Universities awarded with the funding include the University of Manchester, Brunel University, London and the University of Strathclyde.

A full list of winners can be seen below.

Paul Davidson, challenge director of the SSPP challenge, said: “The Enabling Research projects are a huge step forward in enabling the UK to find better solutions to existing problems in how plastic packaging is made, used and disposed of. It aims to fundamentally change how we package and recycle items for the benefit of the environment.

“This funding will help experts from across the country address the important issue of making plastics more environmental-conscious.

“We look forward to hearing the outcomes of this project investment and how this will benefit both the UK and global environment.”

The UKRI is a non-governmental organisation that directs research and innovation funding.


Biffa will work with the University of Manchester to come up simpler ways of recycling rPET

Biffa announced today that it will be collaborating with the University of Manchester on its £1.5m project entitled ‘one bin to rule them all’, which will receive funding from UKRI.

The joint venture project will focus on challenging plastic waste collection methods, and “improving UK recycling infrastructure “ so that more recycled material can be fed back into a plastic circular economy.

Biffa said that it will contribute its knowledge of polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) to advise on how to simplify its recycling process.

It will be one of 17 industry partners and local authorities, including Britvic, BASF and Co-op, collaborating on the project.

Mick Davis, chief operating officer for Biffa’s resources & energy division, said: “The ‘One Bin’ project has enormous potential to help towards solving the UK’s waste challenge. Simplifying recycling for consumers whilst simultaneously creating more value for manufacturers by using recycled plastic addresses the entire supply and is the most effective way to solve this problem. Our involvement in the project supports Biffa’s focus on creating a closed loop economy, as well as our calls for a simpler recycling system in the UK.”

“One Bin project lead, Professor Michael Shaver from the University of Manchester, said: “As a polymer scientist, it is clear that the overwhelming challenge of plastic waste management cannot be overcome with materials science alone. We can improve the recyclability of plastics but we need to understand how people interact with waste streams to ensure they are fit for purpose. The ‘One bin’ project’s holistic approach will innovate the creation, use and disposal of plastics simultaneously.”


The full list of winners are:

University College London

Compostable plastics: unlocking existing barriers to systems change

Loughborough University

Perpetual Plastic for Food to Go (PPFTG)

University of Strathclyde

Biocomposite design for food packaging

City, University of London

Reducing plastic packaging and food waste through product innovation simulation

University of Manchester

‘One bin to rule them all’; Modern waste management towards zero plastic release

University of Sheffield

Many Happy Returns; Enabling reusable packaging systems

University of Lancaster

Plastic Packaging in Peoples’ Lives (PPiPL); Bridging the consumer attitude behaviour gap

Brunel University London

Providing the 30% recycled content for food packaging (PFP)

University of Liverpool

Post-Consumer Resin; Understanding the quality-performance linkage for packaging

University of Cambridge

Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging from Plants (S2UPPlant)



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