R&D boost for single-use plastic packaging


During 2020 we have all seen the exponential growth and importance of takeaway meals, convenience products and the consequential plethora of packaging that accompanies it.  It is a shame that a pizza box, sandwich box, coffee cup often cannot be included within the recycle bins we have at home or the office, so it’s great to see this initiative launched by UK Research & Innovation linking up with Loughborough University (a top university and highly recommended!).

The initiative, titled The Perpetual Plastic for Food to Go project (PPFTG), will aim to develop and prototype circular business models that reduce the environmental and economic impact of foot-to-go packaging. 

The £1m awarded to Loughborough University is part of a larger £8m initiative funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) called the ‘Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge’ (SSPP). With its SSPP initiative, the UKRI hopes to find new solutions to the problems presented by the polluting food-to-go packaging we use today.

As some may know, I have first hand experience of the single-use packaging dilemma when I had a dabble with a weekend pop-up food stand. The choice I was presented with was to run with the very cheap plastic foam containers or compostable packaging. There was a big enough difference in cost between the two for it to be a considered purchase due to margin. On principle and to cover all bases with target audience, I ran with the compostable bowls, forks and napkins.  Needless to say, these now come in handy when hosting at home.

Any investment to help reduce that cost difference in recyclable and non-recyclable packaging would be welcome and will make it less of a headache for manufacturers, food retailers and ultimately consumer when considering price point. 

Manufacturing – and, in fact, manufacturing for the food industry and outside-the-home dining sectors – is some of Polestar’s core sectors of expertise. We are naturally keen to support anyone in this sector with their growth aspirations or transformation towards sustainability.  One of our clients spent 2019 developing rPET pint pots, not that they have had much use at the festivals and concerts of 2020! That said, the use of materials and adaptation to the new machinery was UK manufacturing at its finest – all at the same time as we helped them negotiate terms with their financiers.

Loughborough University has been awarded around £1m to help tackle waste plastic in the UK

By Anusheh Khan on 11/12/2020