UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has launched two new competitions to help develop plastics that are greener, safer and more easily recyclable.
Plastic has played an important role in helping us to create revolutionary goods, such as microwaves and mobile phones, however, plastic waste is an increasing environmental concern and it is therefore important that plastic waste is more easily recycled and reused.
In order to help aid solutions to the plastic problem, UKRI has launched a competition which will provide up to £8m of funding to help researchers develop recycling systems that can cope with the rising volumes of plastic waste.
This investment is part of the government’s commitment to transform the plastic packaging and production industry.
Chris Skidmore, science minister, said: ‘We have reached a critical point when it comes to saving our planet from the plague of plastic pollution.
‘The UKRI competitions will help further the development of greener plastics that are safe, clean and recyclable, transforming plastic packaging and production now and far into the future.’
Paul Davidson, challenge director of the competition, said: ‘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.’
In October 2019, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, developed an efficient process for recycling plastic by turning it into a gas that can then be recycled at a molecular level to become new plastic materials.
The researchers saw this as an opportunity to create a circular use of plastic in society, as well as an opportunity to free us from the need for oil and gas to produce various high-quality plastics.
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