Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Competitions

Posted on: 24/01/2020

UKRI leads the fight against unsustainable plastics with the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have launched two new competitions as part of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge. These competitions reward organisations who are developing smarter plastics that are greener, safer and more easily recyclable, combatting the scourge of waste plastic globally.


These two new competitions offer up to £8 million funding which will help researchers develop recycling systems that can cope with rising volumes of recyclable materials and enable academics to analyse how package design impacts consumer behaviour. Plastics still play a vital role in the life of future businesses and consumers. In order to protect the planet from waste pollution it is critical that plastics are more readily recycled and sustainable. New production and packaging techniques, through cutting edge technology, will enhance the longevity of the next generation of plastics packaging and make reduction, reuse and recycling easier.


The two new competitions will reward forward-thinking researchers and businesses developing sustainable plastic packaging, focusing on working with academia and industry to develop smarter plastics solutions. This means that all four competitions of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge are now open to applicants!


The first of these competitions is called ‘Enabling Research” and it aims to promote academic research that can support the aims of the overall SSPP challenge, welcoming significant industry participation and co-investment.  You can find out more about this challenge here.


The second of these competitions is for early-stage business led projects, requiring academics and businesses to submit detailed information on the ways a new project would fulfil the aims of the SSPP challenge. In particular, applicants will have to demonstrate that they have adopted a lifecycle approach to plastics packaging, examining the use of a material from its raw state, through to its transport, usage by consumers to end of life. This competition offers a. share of up to £1m for UK businesses and is titled “Feasibility Studies and Industrial Research”. Find out more about this competition here.


Both of these competitions opened on 13th January and will close on 1st April 2020.

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The recording from our briefing event on these competitions is available here:

Paul Davidson, challenge director of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge, explained:

“Plastic is a major part of our lives and as we all become greener, the calls to move away from plastic to preserve the planet have become louder. Our challenge and the government’s strategy for clean growth offers an alternative. We will seek ways to ensure continued use of safe, clean and easily-recyclable plastic. This will boost productivity and prevent disruption to business and consumers. Industrial and academic cooperation is a vital part of this process to bring these ideas to market.”

The two previous competitions which opened in December 2019 are still open with a closing date of 19th February 2020.


These two competitions focused on finding prototypes for a new generation of plastic packaging, offering £12 million in funding for demonstrators of sustainable plastic packaging and further funding of £700,000 for a feasibility study to develop proposals for future demonstration projects. These competitions are titled “feasibility studies for demonstrators” and “demonstrator projects round 1“.

Click here for video

You can watch back the recordings from the UKCPN, KTN & Innovate UK briefing event on these competitions below:

All of this investment in new resource efficient and environmentally friendly products is part of the government’s commitment to boost R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. The funding will help businesses, researchers and industry to transform plastic packaging and production.


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Briefing Webinar: Enabling Research in Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging

UKRI will host a webinar 11:00 – 12:30 on Monday 10 February 2020 to support the funding opportunity for Enabling Research in Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging.


The purpose of the call is to establish academic‚Äëled research that addresses widely understood problems in relation to plastic packaging. The outputs of the Enabling Research work stream will deliver sustainable environmental, societal and/or economic benefits, compared with current systems.


This call comprises part of an investment under the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which aims 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 significant reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.


The webinar will provide an overview of the Enabling Research call, including a summary of the objectives, scope, eligibility and process for applying to the call. In addition, there will be a short introduction to the background of the call, which will include a summary of the wider SSPP Challenge and activities. There will be opportunities to ask questions about the call.


Participants should register their name, role, institution, and email address via an online form. Participants will then be sent all relevant links and instructions for joining the webinar. 

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