Scheme to create plastic from food waste launched

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

A new government fund could see food waste transformed into plastic packaging
A new government fund could see food waste transformed into plastic packaging
An initiative to turn food waste into environmentally friendly plastic packaging has received a £60m funding boost from the Government.

Delivered by national funding agency UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the project looked to create new forms of packaging from food and industrial waste, such as sugar beet, in an effort to move away from oil-based plastics.

The Government-led scheme also hoped to introduce ‘live’ sell-by date patches on products that deteriorate at the same rate as produce, giving consumers a much clearer indication as to when food goes off – in turn reducing food waste.  

Businesses will be able to access this funding through UKRI-managed competitions to meet the challenge of developing smart sustainable plastic packaging.

Partnership with industry

However, investment into the project was subject to industry entering into partnership with the Government and providing significant co-investment.

Plastic’s effect on seas and oceans

It has been estimated there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans​ and, every year, one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die​ from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. A recent report​ estimated that plastic in the sea was set to treble by 2025.

Source: UK Government

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said: “Finding innovative solutions to tackle our use of harmful plastics which blight our land and seas is a major global challenge, and opportunity – one our nation of researchers and innovators is fit to seize.

“Today’s funding and sector strategy enhances our position as a global leader on improving our environment and tackling climate change. It will make us a beacon for design, manufacturing and exporting of sustainable plastics and environmentally-friendly replacements for polluting products as we move to a greener, cleaner economy – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Sustainable packaging

To mark the investment in sustainable plastic packaging, the Government also announced a strategy to help boost bio-economy, in a bid to elevate standards for bio-based and biodegradable plastics, to create new sustainable materials and reduce the impact of plastics on the environment.

The Government said it was also looking at further ways to reduce avoidable waste and recycle more as part of its Resources and Waste Strategy, which is to be published shortly.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola European Partners is to purchase 100% recycled plastics​ from supplier Loop Industries, in an effort to make its supply chain more sustainable.

Industrial Strategy Fund

Businesses can apply for funding to help develop:

  • new forms of packaging and plastic – made from farming, food and industrial waste, like sugar beet, wood chippings and food waste – moving away from oil-based plastics
  • smart packaging labels – which, alongside a smart bin, could tell consumers the right bin to put recycling into and revolutionise the way recycling is sorted in waste plants
  • ‘live’ sell-by-date patch – a living sell-by-date which deteriorates at the same rate as produce to show consumers when their food is going off – cutting down on food waste
  • reduce single-use plastics – increase use of recycled plastic in new products

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