UK unveils sustainable packaging fund with an eye on plant materials

UK – The UK government has launched plans to invest into fighting single-use plastics by developing sustainable packaging solutions including use of plant-based materials.

As part of the development, businesses are expected to invest up to £149 million (US$185 million) in tackling the global problem of single-use plastics while developing sustainable options.

The investment is an addition to £60m (US$76 million) in funding launched by the government last December to develop sustainable plastics.

Businesses have been put to the task to find ways to cut waste in the supply chain, develop new business models and create new sustainable recyclable materials.

The plans form part of the government’s Clean Growth Challenge – a key part of the Modern Industrial Strategy, which is backing the development of plastics made from plants, and products that degrade easily in an open environment.

“Plastic pollution is a global crisis that affects our oceans and our land,” said UK Research and Innovation CEO Professor Sir Mark Walport. 

“The new investment through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging solutions, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.”

According to statistics, about 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced globally each year and if left unchecked the amount is expected to triple by 2050.

The government has also published a call for evidence on standards for bio-based and biodegradable plastics.

The consultation seeks evidence from scientists, manufacturers and the research community on the sustainability and wider impacts of biodegradable, compostable, and bio-based plastics.

This may bring in use of new forms of packaging and plastic made from plants, wood chippings and food waste.

“We have all seen the enormous damage being caused by single-use plastics across the world,” said UK Business Secretary Greg Clark.

“The race is on to develop new effective and practical solutions to end the scourge of single-use plastics, helping protect our planet for future generations.

“We have put a record level of research and development investment at the heart of our Industrial Strategy – investing to support our best minds and businesses in developing the solutions and industries of tomorrow.”

The move comes after the UK government announced plans to ban the sale and use of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England from April 2020.

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