Plastic packaging initiatives awarded £30m

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced the 18 different projects which will be receiving a combined £30 million from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge (SSPPC).

Flexible films are likely to be included in the consistency regime

Five large-scale demonstrator projects and 13 business-led research and development initiatives were all awarded part of the funding.

The successful companies were announced today (2 March), before a ceremony in London.

As well as aiming to support the achievement of the upcoming UK Plastic Packaging Tax, the projects also address a growing “emotional public interest” in reduction of plastic packaging, according to Mike Biddle, programme director of the Innovate’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The SSPPC is the largest government investment into sustainable plastic packaging and waste management to date, the organisers said.

Uncaptured Unrecycled Plastics

The largest amount of funding was £5.1 million awarded to the Uncaptured Unrecycled Plastics (UUP) project.

This aims to establish and operate a commercial-scale demonstration facility for the recovery, sorting and recycling of post-consumer plastic packaging from mixed waste streams, for example reject material from MRFs.

UKRI said: “Bringing together technology expertise from Fiberight Ltd and Impact Recycling Ltd, this demand-led innovation will be used to ensure that the plastic recovered is of a high specification for use in onward mechanical and chemical recycling applications. The project, which has been awarded £5.1 million in funding, will be particularly focused on developing a sustainable solution for problematic packaging including films and flexibles”.

CLEANSTREAM technology

Plastic packaging
Mark Roberts, Plasgran managing director. at today’s ceremony

The second largest beneficiary of funding was £4.4m given to Plasgran Ltd – with partners Berry, TOMRA Sorting, Maynard & Harris, RPC Containers, and Massmould.

The CLEANSTREAM technology the companies have created will aim to be “the world’s first economically viable process to separate post-consumer non-food PP packaging and food-contact PP packaging”.

If successful, the Cleanstream process will allow the food-contact packaging to be mechanically recycled back into food-grade recyclate, significantly increasing the high value recycling of polypropylene in the UK.

Impact Recycling Ltd

There was also £4.1 million awarded to Impact Recycling, who will use the funds to build a commercial demonstrator plant to “efficiently separate post-consumer mixed flexible plastic packaging”.

According to David Walsh, CEO at Impact Recycling, the technology has proven successful when working with rigids at the Newcastle plant, so the company is now also applying it with flexibles.

The plant is planned to process 25,000 tonnes/year, over double the amount of plastic film collected for recycling in the UK in 2019.

Objectives

The challenge has seen private and public sector combine investments to help deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025, as set out by the government.

The funding was welcomed by Jo Churchill, resources and waste minister, who commented: “The Government’s £30 million investment targets innovative projects to create packaging that can be refilled, more easily recycled, and made of materials that are far more sustainable for our natural environment.”

Part of the funding is also to support behavioural change, which is an essential part of the shift to a more circular economy.

The full list of projects awarded funding can be found here.

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