Industrial strategy challenges focus on new packaging forms

- Jul 24, 2019-

New packaging and plastics made from plants, wood chips and food waste are the focus of a government-backed industrial strategy challenge that is a major boost to UK research and development.

Companies are expected to pool up to £149m ($185m) and £60m ($75m) in government funding to fund the research.The research is part of the UK government's Clean Growth Challenge.It follows the UK becoming the first major economy to legislate to end its impact on global warming by 2050.

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Money could be used to find ways to reduce waste in the supply chain, develop new business models and create new sustainable recycled materials.This could include using plants instead of oil to make plastics, which would help reduce their carbon impact.

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Greg Clark, commerce secretary, said: "we are putting record levels of investment in research and development at the heart of our industrial strategy to invest in supporting our best people and companies to develop the solutions and industries of the future.This joint government and business investment makes it clear that there is a common goal when it comes to reducing plastic pollution.This is an opportunity for our world's leading companies and innovators to develop materials of the future that have the potential to transform our economy and our environment."

Annual production of about 80 million tons of plastic packaging, if not controlled, is expected to triple by 2050.After a short first use period, 95% of plastic packaging loses its economic benefits.

Brands are increasingly taking action to change the demand for disposable plastic.Sainsbury's has promised to cut 10,000 tonnes of plastic bags this year, remove them from fresh fruits and vegetables and introduce hydration stalls in supermarkets.

Behind these innovations include the london-based start-up Skipping Rocks Lab, the company has created a new packaging made of Notpla, Notpla is a kind of material made of algae and plants, has the certain persistence.The material was used as a condiment in an experiment by Just Eat and as an alternative to plastic bottles during the 2019 London marathon.

Richard Slater, unilever's chief research and development officer, said: "unilever is actively trying to reduce the impact of plastic packaging.Many of the key challenges we face can only be overcome through partnerships and system-wide cooperation.It's nice to see the industry and government working together to find innovative solutions as part of the challenge of smart and sustainable plastic packaging.