Politics & Legislation

UK Sets Up Plastics Fund

UK has set up a  £20 million fund to explore new ideas and innovations to change the plastics manufacturing industry and increase reuse and recycling.

The Plastics and Research Innovation Fund (PRIF) will enable Britain to become a circular economy and adopt sustainable approaches towards plastics.

PRIF will be managed by the 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).

The fund will have three parts which will involve:

  • Leadership and Knowledge Exchange: UK Circular Plastics Network funding ~ £2 million
  • Research: Plastics ‘Creativity’ funding ~ £8 million
  • Business led research and development: Plastics ‘Innovation’ funding ~ £10 million

UKRI will work together with the sustainability experts WRAP to detect initiatives, improve knowledge exchange and identify priorities.

The fund will set up strategic networking and research to enable rapid solutions. It will support the polymer, packaging, retail and waste sectors as well as local government responsible for waste collection.

UK Science Minister Sam 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 £20 million 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.”

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. We are also looking at how the tax system or charges can support our ambitions. Our recent call for evidence for views on this attracted a record 130,000 responses from the public, which shows just how important an issue this is.”

Professor Duncan Wingham, UKRI’s Lead for the fund and Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, said: “This Fund will bring the strength of UKRI’s entire portfolio, from environment to technology to business to behaviour and regulation, to bear on this pressing and very widely recognised problem. In addition, it will draw on the expertise of partners who have been working in the waste reduction and recycling arena for some time.”

UKRI brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England into a single organisation to create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish.


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