UK government opens plastic waste innovation fund

The government is inviting organisations to apply for funding under a multi-million pound grant scheme to help boost the recycling of plastic packaging.

Organisations in England can apply for government funding for innovative solutions to drive up the recycling of hard-to-recycle plastic packaging such as plastic trays, pots and tubs, plastic films and pouches.

This could include innovative sorting or segregation equipment, and smarter systems to enable sorting of different polymers.

The UK generates around 2.4 million tonnes of packaging waste per year. Around 40% of all plastic produced in the UK is used in the packaging of goods.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. Valuable waste ending up in landfill makes no sense environmentally or economically.

“We are making progress but there is more to do, and I encourage organisations to apply for our multi-million pound grant to drive-up the recycling of these valuable materials.”

Existing pledges

The announcement builds on the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy – which sets out how the overhaul of packaging regulations will see producers pay the full cost of managing their waste, while the government will also place greater responsibility on producers to make their items easier to reuse and recycle.

The government has recently announced a range of measures to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste including taking over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation with the 5p plastic bag charge with plans to raise the charge to 10p and extend it to all retailers.

The government also confirmed a ban on plastic straws, drinks stirrers, and plastic stemmed cotton buds in April 2020, introduced a world-leading ban on microbeads, and has consulted on introducing a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of drinks bottles and cans.

Earlier this year, the government consulted on a world-leading tax on plastic packaging which does not contain a minimum of 30% recycled content from April 2022 to cut the use of virgin plastics and encourage more sustainable packaging.

The UK government has also committed a £61.4 million package of funding to boost global research and help countries across the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering the oceans. Building on this, the government’s £20 million Plastics Research and Innovation Fund encourages researchers and businesses to develop new innovations that can bring changes in the UK’s plastics manufacturing and consumption patterns, which will be key to developing a cleaner, greener economy through the Industrial Strategy.

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