400 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, with 40% of that being single-use-plastic that we will only use once before it’s binned. This material has been the number 1 waste pollutant for our planet, damaging our environments with both the production and disposal of it. To correct our plastic waste problem, we must research for an alternative and find solutions to the issues we are facing with plastic today.
UKRI (UK Research and Innovation)
This is where UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) have stepped in to help. They announced on the 18th of November, an investment of 8 million for 10 university-led research projects on sustainable plastic; in the hope to find solutions for sustainable plastic packaging and tackling our plastic pollution crisis. The universities were awarded the money for their innovative solutions to plastic, and will be working alongside partners from across the world. This will ensure they are doing all it takes to maximise the projects that money and research are going into, in the bid to create a more sustainable planet.
This funding comes from a huge push of £60 million for the Smart Sustainable Programme announced by the government back in 2018, which was designed to:
Establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025. – UKRI
Brunel University, London
Address hard-to-recycle plastic and segregation of materials
University College London
Investigate how compostable plastics are currently being used and form a plan on how these plastics can be introduced into our waste management
Research circular business models that combine smart technology to reduce the environmental, societal, and economic impact of food-to-go packaging
City, University of London
Research on plastic food packaging so that we are using it correctly to decrease the amount of plastic and food waste
University of Sheffield
Investigate reusable packaging systems to help reduce plastic pollution from single-use-plastic
University of Lancaster
Aim to shift behaviours of consumers around plastic food packaging to change our attitudes and approach to recycling
The University of Liverpool
Researching into how we can improve the post-consumer recycled plastic journey
University of Cambridge
Engineering materials with new functional properties to improve the overall versatility and strength of packaging in the hope to reduce the amount needed
The University of Manchester
Exploring a systemic approach to plastic waste management to reduce the amount released into the environment
University of Strathclyde
Researching into optimising the use of compostable plastics to look for a new design for packaging.
The outcomes of these projects could be crucial to the plastic waste problem that we are experiencing, and it is a huge step from the UK in the fight to find innovative solutions to this worldwide issue. The investment from UKRI could fundamentally make plastics and us as consumers more sustainable and environmentally-conscious, which will hopefully help reach the goal of dramatically reducing the amount of plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.