Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Programme for early-stage projects.

The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products. Its goals are to deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.

Your project must aim to:

  • help make the plastics packaging supply chain more circular
  • deliver the targets of the UK Plastics Pact improve on current state-of-the-art plastic packaging, or supply chain data
  • embed life cycle thinking and end of life in packaging design and decisions

Your project must:

  • demonstrate how it supports the objectives of the plastics pact and delivers systemic change
  • clearly explain how you will reduce the UK plastic packaging system’s overall environmental impact

Your project must contribute to meeting the SSPP Challenge objectives, but we will fund projects that do not seek direct commercial output or financial value.

Beneficial information and outputs delivered by such projects must be made freely available to UK stakeholders.

The competition will award grants ranging from £50,000 to £150,000 per project. The maximum grant to be shared between partners in a collaborative project is £150,000.

Your project

Projects must start by 1 June 2021 and end by 30 November 2022, and can last up to 18 months.

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone your organisation:

  • must be a UK registered business of any size, charity, non-government body or not-for-profit
  • must carry out its project work in the UK
  • must intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • can collaborate with UK registered businesses, charities, non-government body, not-for-profit or UK-based academic institutions, research organisations, research and technology organisations (RTOs)

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, charity, non-government body, not-for-profit, or UK based academic institution, research organisation or RTO
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Projects must deliver one or more of the following:

  • a more circular plastic packaging value chain, with reduced environmental impacts, such as carbon emissions and improved recyclability
  • improved understanding of effective communication techniques to increase recycling rates and uptake of re-use/refill business models
  • more consistent data and increased knowledge relevant to the supply chain

Projects can include either: the re-design of existing goods, services or business models; or design of entirely new goods, services or business models to serve an existing need.

You must quantify the benefits of the new approach compared to the system your project intends to replace or improve.

Your proposal must focus on addressing known problems in relation to plastic packaging as the primary application.

Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:

  • packaging suitable for reuse, refill and online delivery
  • marking and tracking of packaging to improve supply chain circularity or sustainability
  • films and flexibles in packaging applications
  • low carbon, non fossil polymers for packaging applications
  • business models leading to reduced waste plastic going to landfill
  • behaviour change leading to less packaging waste or higher recycling rates
  • food grade plastic packaging in the UK marketplace
  • diverting small format and medical packaging from incineration

An online briefing event will be held on 3rd November, 10am-3.15pm: register here.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network’s Materials team.