Rebecca Wayman

UK will 'lead' on global single-use plastic crisis with new 2050 initiative

New forms of packaging and plastic made from plants and food waste could be on the horizon according to the government.

Businesses are expected to jointly invest up to £149m, alongside a £60m government investment, aiming to eventually cease single use plastic in the UK.

The scheme is part of the government’s Clean Growth Challenge, part of the Industrial Strategy. It follows the UK becoming the first economy to legislate its ‘end to contribution of global warming’ by 2050.

Funding could be used to find ways of cutting waste in the supply chain, developing new business models and creating new sustainable, recyclable materials.

Business secretary, Greg Clark, said: “We have all seen the enormous damage being caused by single-use plastics across the world.

“The race is on to develop new effective and practical solutions to end the scourge of single use plastics, helping protect our planet for future generations.

“We have put a record level of research and development investment at the heart of our Industrial Strategy - investing to support our best minds and businesses in developing the solutions and industries of tomorrow.”

Around 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced annually. If left unchecked, this is expected to triple by 2050.

After a short first-use cycle, 95 per cent of plastic packaging is not recycled and therefore lost in landfill or in oceans.

Brands are increasingly acting on the need to shift away from single use plastics. Sainsbury’s has committed to removing 10,000 tonnes this year as well as removing plastic bags from fresh fruit and vegetables and introducing water refill stands in superstores.

Today (July 22), Sainsbury’s has announced the removal of all plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables in its Lincoln and Kidlington stores.

Greg Clark added: “This government and business co-investment clearly demonstrates that when it comes to cutting plastics pollution there is a shared ambition.

“This is a unique opportunity for our world-leading businesses and innovators to develop the materials of the future with the potential to transform our economy as well as our environment.”

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