URKI funding puts UK at the forefront of next-generation plastic recycling

£20m investment in cutting edge recycling technology, to reduce landfill and incineration.

Projects to reduce landfill and incineration of waste plastics and schemes to recycle waste into new, sustainable plastics have received a funding boost today.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is investing £20m in four cutting edge recycling plants.

These plants will increase the available recycling capacity in the UK and expand the range of plastics being recycled, as opposed to being sent to landfill or incineration, or exported overseas for disposal.

The £20m investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, along with over £65m of industry investment, represents the largest investment the UK has made in plastic packaging recycling technologies.

The technologies include a hydrothermal liquefaction process to convert waste plastic into chemicals and oils for use in the manufacture of new plastic, a thermal cracking procedure to transform end-of-life plastics into hydrocarbon oil that can be used in plastic production, and a depolymerising facility that extracts colour from waste allowing easier reuse.

Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging

The funding forms part of UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge, which aims to increase the amount of recyclable plastic packaging and improve UK productivity in plastics, leading to a reduction in plastic waste entering the environment.

Paul Davidson, challenge director of the SSPP challenge, said:

“To help protect the planet from waste pollution it is critical that plastics are more readily recycled and sustainable. The plastic packaging industry is changing, to become more responsive to our environmentally conscious concerns.

“The work of our four demonstrator winners will go a long way to reinstate plastic as a sustainable packaging choice. In particular, our winners demonstrated they have a lifecycle approach to plastics packaging, thinking through the use of a material from its raw state, through to its transport, its use by consumers and its disposal.

“This funding is just the start and we are planning further competitions in the near future.”

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

“The Government is committed to both clamping down on the unacceptable plastic waste that harms our environment and ensuring more materials can be reused instead of being thrown away.

“By investing in these truly ground-breaking technologies we will help to drive these efforts even further, and I look forward to seeing them develop and deliver real results.”

The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products with £60m in funding from ISCF which will be complemented by £149m from industry. The challenge will deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.

Read the full story on the UKRI website.

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