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UKRI to fund packaging supply chain to deliver 2025 UK Plastic Pact targets

UK Research and Innovation’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge, is rolling out £24 million to fund innovation projects run by UK businesses across two funding competitions in 2021.

UK businesses can apply for funding for projects that will support the UK to deliver one or more of the 2025 UK Plastic Pact targets. Applicants will need to clearly explain how they would reduce the UK plastic packaging system’s overall environmental impact.

The SSPP programme is particularly looking for bold and ambitious projects that focus on:

  • Minimising/reducing plastic packaging.

  • Refillable packaging.

  • Sustainable solutions for film and flexible packaging.

  • Food grade recycled polypropylene and polyethylene.

  • Behaviour change leading to less packaging waste and/or higher recycling rates.

  • Addressing the UK Plastics Pact target for problematic or unnecessary single use plastic packaging items.

Projects must help to deliver the targets of the UK Plastics Pact, make the plastics packaging supply chain more circular and improve on current plastic packaging solutions, while still demonstrating practical and close to market solutions.

Paul Davidson, Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge director, said: ‘The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging programme is dedicated to supporting innovative projects that will have real world benefits in reducing plastic waste in the environment and we’ve already seen some exciting projects as a result of our programme funding, include four large scale recycling plants.

‘We are now looking to further our support in 2021 with £24 million investment. By investing in projects ranging from reducing plastic packaging to behaviour change, we can help deliver results to reduce plastic pollution.”

As we recover from Covid, this funding will provide the chance for the UK to build back better in relation to our use of plastic packaging. The innovative solutions these competitions will fund will be vital in helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.

The competitions are as follows:

SSPP Demonstrator Round 2 (Expression of Interest stage – £16 million fund)

Opening on 8 February, this competition will fund large scale commercial demonstration projects, including large scale commercial trials of novel packaging technology or systems.

The competition is open to collaborations only. A full submission competition (by invitation only) will follow the Expression of Interest Competition and will be open from 3 May to 14 July 2021.

Grants available from the follow-on full submission will be between £1 million and £12 million, subject to this competition’s rules.

Business led research and development projects (£8 million fund)

Opening on 29 March 2021, this competition will fund research and development projects.

The competition is open to collaborations and projects and the maximum grant available will be £4 million, subject to this competition’s rules.

Watch the webinar briefing about the current and upcoming competitions now:

Additional details on funding availability and associated conditions for the competitions will be available in the respective competition briefs closer to the competition opening dates.

For more information on all SSPP competition, visit UK CPN:


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