Science minister announces plastics research and innovation fund

Science minister announces plastics research and innovation fund

UK Science Minister, Sam Gyimah, announces a £20m (~€22.8m) plastics research and innovation fund to turn the tide on the production of plastic.

A new £20m plastics research and innovation fund that aims to explore new ideas and innovations that can bring changes in the UK’s plastics manufacturing and consumption patterns has been announced today (18 June) by the UK science minister.

The new fund will engage Britain’s best scientists and innovators to help move the country towards a more circular economy and sustainable approaches to plastics.

It will be managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and delivered via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Gyimah said: “There’s been incredible progress in making people aware of the danger that plastic can do to our environment and our oceans. Today we are announcing a £20m fund for our best scientists and researchers through UKRI to come up with new technology and also new plastics that do not harm the environment so much. This means moving from our current model of make, use and dispose to a new model where you use, you reuse, and you recycle.”

Tackling plastic waste

Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We are tackling the issue of plastic waste to protect our environment for future generations. One important part of this will be backing the creation of innovative products and methods of recycling plastic.”

The plastics research and innovation fund will have three parts; these include:

  • Leadership and knowledge exchange;
  • Research; and
  • Business-led research and development.

UKRI will work with the sustainability expert WRAP to network and connect this fund with initiatives across business, government and the research and innovation community, with the aim of encouraging knowledge exchange and identifying future research and innovation priorities to enable the move to a circular plastics economy.

Creating a network

The fund will seek to deliver strategic networking and research that will co-ordinate existing knowledge across the UK, catalysing new ideas and solutions across the research and innovation landscape.

It will support the polymer, packaging, retail and waste sectors as well as local government responsible for waste collection.

UK Research and Innovation chief executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “It is imperative we change our use and misuse of plastic… This fund will help to create the range of new approaches and alternatives needed to rapidly reverse the impact that our use of plastics is having on the planet.”

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