Resources charity WRAP has announced that four projects have won grants totalling nearly £1m as part of a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) competition to find innovative solutions to plastic waste.
The funding, which was reduced from an initially advertised £1.4 million, was announced yesterday (21 May) and was awarded after companies pitched for the funding last year.
The competition is part of the £20 million Plastic Research and Innovation Fund, managed on behalf of UKRI by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Innovate UK, with delivery by WRAP.
The fund was announced by then science minister Sam Gyimah in 2018, and it aimed to explore ideas and innovations that could initiate changes in the UK’s plastics manufacturing and consumption patterns.
The UKRI is a non-governmental organisation that directs research and innovation funding, funded through the science budget of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The Technology Research Centre and RPC Containers Ltd were awarded the highest grant, receiving £307,030 for a contaminated film separation technique aiming to achieve “full recovery of polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate and aluminium from multi-layered packaging waste (including film, semi-rigid trays, cups and tubs).”
The project will develop a pilot-scale system and will aim to process 15,000 tonnes of plastic within its first year post-project, with plans to expand further after the initial pilot.
Luxus and the Technology Research Centre were awarded £255,730 for a project which aims to “optimise material/packaging formulation, using an algorithm that data-searches the best method to use recycled materials and improve cost-efficiency”.
Impact Solutions and Scottish Plastic Recycling Centre of Excellence were awarded £229,525 for a recycling technology, PolyChrome, which the pair claim can remove colour and additives from polyethylene and polypropylene plastic while also preparing it for end users.
The final grant saw Unilever and University of Liverpool awarded £128,417 for their project, which aims to develop a novel packaging solution for the Domestos brand bleach product that includes a higher percentage (more than 70%) of post-consumer recycled plastic in HDPE bottles.
Peter Maddox, director of WRAP UK, said:“We have been very impressed with the diverse range of inventive and creative solutions submitted to the competition. The four winning projects will make a significant contribution to reducing the harmful effects of plastic on the environment, as well as increasing the amount that can be recycled.”
The news of the funding for these projects comes soon after WRAP was awarded $826,000 (£676,00) in scale-up funding for its FLAWLESS food waste reduction partnership project.
WRAP says FLAWLESS is a global coalition aiming to accelerate action on food loss and waste. It is to be run with partners in Mexico, Denmark and Indonesia, among other countries.
The funding was awarded by the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) initiative.
Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, said: “WRAP has had great success reaping the environmental and economic benefits of reducing food waste in the UK through the Courtauld Commitment.
“FLAWLESS will help us take that collaborative model to the world and scale up our impact. With the help of P4G, we will put the world on a trajectory towards SDG 12.3 and halving global food waste by 2030.”
WRAP says FLAWLESS will increase action on food waste by mobilising the financial sector to factor in environmental performance in their lending.