Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £16 million from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Programme to support projects that demonstrate innovation at a commercial scale.

The aim of this competition is to address widely known problems in relation to plastic packaging for consumer products. Your proposal must include significant industry investment.

This is stage 1 of a 2-stage competition. The stages are:

  1. Expression of interest (this stage): evaluated by the SSPP team and independent assessment by Innovate UK. There is no funding in this stage.
  2. Full stage application. This will be by invitation only to applicants who are successful in the EoI stage through the Innovation Funding Service and will include independent assessment by Innovate UK, with an independent Environmental Impact Assessment and, if relevant, an Engineering Assessment.

Innovate UK expects to invest in up to 3 practical demonstrators at the full stage competition.

Your project must demonstrate an idea at commercial scale which:

  • improves the sustainability of the plastic packaging supply chain
  • helps deliver the targets of the UK Plastics Pact
  • utilises innovation in design, technology, processes, business models, supply chains or data for plastic packaging
  • embeds a whole-systems approach to plastic packaging sustainability, considering environmental, economic, and social factors

Your project must:

  • request a minimum grant of £1 million
  • request a maximum grant of £12 million
  • start by 1 February 2022
  • end by 31 January 2025
  • last between 12 and 36 months

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered business(es), academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions cannot lead a project.

We will award grants between £1 million and £12 million. Because we are looking to encourage large scale projects, there is no maximum limit for your total eligible project costs.

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

Your project must demonstrate a holistic approach, including the likely environmental impacts to:

  • humans
  • wildlife and
  • the broader environment

Your project must demonstrate an idea at commercial scale which:

  • improves the sustainability of the plastic packaging supply chain
  • helps deliver the targets of the UK Plastics Pact
  • utilises innovation in design, technology, processes, business models, supply chains or data for plastic packaging
  • embeds a whole-systems approach to plastic packaging sustainability, considering environmental, economic and social factors

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

You must explain how you are innovating to address one or more of the UK Plastics Pact targets. The benefits of the new approach must be quantified in terms of the Pact targets. Any environmental impacts must be described and justified.

This competition is funded by the ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Fund (SSPP), the Challenge Director reserves the right to make the final decision on whether a project will pass the EoI stage.

We are particularly interested in projects which address the UK Plastic Pact targets by demonstrating at scale:

  • minimised or reduced plastic packaging
  • refillable packaging and systems
  • sustainable solutions for film and flexibles
  • food grade recycled polypropylene and polyethylene
  • behaviour change leading to less packaging waste or higher recycling rates
  • solutions for problematic or unnecessary single use plastic packaging items

An online briefing event was held on 9th February: watch the recording.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact Sally Beken at KTN.