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Innovate UK to launch £4.5m waste competition

Up to £4.5m will back research and development projects aimed at increasing the value of materials from waste streams, the UK innovation agency has announced.

The funding will be provided by Innovate UK, formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The organisations say improved efficiency in waste operations is important as EU targets for recycling, landfill tax, and collections costs increase.

“Maximising value is now more important than reducing collection cost: disposal to landfill costs around £100 per tonne including landfill tax, whilst some waste streams are now worth £300 per tonne,” they said.

They also said there was a “significant commercial opportunity” for new recovery processes that met the resource needs of manufacturers.

Proposals must be put forward by a business managing the targeted waste stream in collaboration with a research partner.

Funding of up to 50% will be available, or 60% if SMEs are involved. Innovate UK and EPSRC will consider projects lasting up to 24 months and having a total cost of up to £800,000. Applicants must also describe how their projects could generate growth within the UK.

Projects could include, but are not limited to:

  • improved collection schemes
  • techniques for identification of materials and parts
  • identification and processing of waste materials at speed
  • real-time monitoring of contaminants
  • recovery of valuable resources from wastewater or factory effluent
  • production of high value chemicals or materials from agri or biowaste, excluding via biological processes

Energy-from-waste initiatives are excluded, as well as projects focused on product returns or leasing models.

The competition opens on 12 January 2015, with a briefing event on 14 January. More information is available here.

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