Food scraps could make plastic alternative

Food scraps could be turned into a plastic alternative thanks to £60 million of new government funding earmarked for research into sustainable packaging.

Food waste
Image Flickr/Gill King

Food scraps could be turned into a plastic alternative thanks to £60 million of new government funding earmarked for research into sustainable packaging.

Packaging innovators and researchers will be able to access, and contribute to, the funding for a range of projects, such as creating new materials from food, farming and industrial waste, including sugar beet, wood chippings and food waste, to replace oil-based plastics.

Other research projects include smart packaging labels, which would identify the right recycling bin for packaging types and transform recycling processes in waste plants, and a ‘live’ sell-by date that deteriorates at the same rate as produce to show consumers when their food is going off, aiming to help cut food waste.

Energy minister Claire Perry said: “Today’s funding and sector strategy enhances our position as a global leader on improving our environment and tackling climate change. It will make us a beacon for design, manufacturing and exporting of sustainable plastics and environmentally-friendly replacements for polluting products as we move to a greener, cleaner economy – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Speaking at a recent debate on plastic, packaging technologist at organic veg box company Riverford, Robyn Copley-Wilkins, said that one of the most exciting things to come out of the increased awareness around plastic pollution, is the new funding that will be released to help develop new sustainable packaging.

“One of the really great things that has come out of this movement against plastic is the funding and opportunity for universities and research organisations to really get involved in packaging alternatives for conventional products,” she said.

“It’s given people the capital and the headspace to start thinking more innovatively about packaging. The result is that in 20 years’ time the things that are coming out of this will be steps ahead, because there is going to be so much change.”


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  1. I’ve been with Riverford since they began & agree with Guy on everything except the use of plastics . I understand his well informed stance but , although I’ll continue to be a customer , I worry about my health using plastic food packaging & we have too much plastic in the world if we never made any more from today . Such arguments as the cost of changing to glass milk bottles could have been used hundreds of years ago in other debates about ethics , I’m afraid to say , & I am Riverford’s biggest fan !

  2. Plastics derived from fossil fuels, especially single- use plastics are responsible for more than a billion deaths of sea birds and marine animals and marine mammals each and every year. The degraded micro plastics are ingested by single cell organisms and up the food chain to krill, fish, whales, humans. Why are we still debating this? Stop producing, buying and selling fossil fuel derived plastics. Stop now. We won’t have any marine or fresh water life left soon. Watch A Plastic Ocean and face up to reality.


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