Climate Action

UK to lead global innovation for sustainable plastics in shift towards net zero

The UK Government has announced plans to lead a global innovation scheme in the battle of plastic pollution in the drive toward a net zero future.

  • 22 July 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

The UK Government has announced plans to lead a global innovation scheme to present new solutions for the plastic crisis in the drive toward a net zero future.

Businesses will join together to invest over £149 million in innovative solutions to combat single-use plastics. Alongside this, the UK Government will invest £60 million to further fund the much needed innovation.

This investment means that new forms of packaging and plastic made from plants, wood chippings and food waste could be one step closer.

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

Around 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced annually and if left unchecked, this is expected to triple by 2050, says the Government. After a short first-use cycle, 95% of plastic packaging is lost to the economy.

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

Funding could be used to find ways to cut waste in the supply chain, develop new business models and create new sustainable recyclable materials. This could include using plants instead of oils to make plastic, which will help reduce their carbon impact.

This new innovation strategy forms part of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

The UK Government also announced funding for the next generation of planes and electric vehicles in a bid to drive the transition towards net zero.

Last month, the UK Government announced they would be the first G7 country to commit to net zero emissions by 2050. Now, environmentalists are calling for urgent action to ensure the nation reaches this imperative target.