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Government puts money into bio-plastic packaging

A £60m Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) fund to encourage the bio-economy will include measures to help reduce plastic packaging and food waste.

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said projects that could be supported would see household food scraps used to create environmentally friendly plastic bags and cups, and smart labels on packaging could end confusion over what rubbish goes in which recycling bin.

Such new packaging could be manufactured from farming, food and industrial waste, such as sugar beet, wood chippings and food waste.

Sustainable packaging could also be developed with ‘living’ sell-by-dates that deteriorated at the same rate as the food concerned to show consumers when food would go off, so reducing food waste

The funding will be distributed to companies interested in working on such innovations through competitions held by UK Research and Innovation.

But Perry warned the investment would be subject to industry entering a partnership with the Government “and providing significant co-investment”.

She also set out plans to develop standards for bio-based and biodegradable plastics.

She said: “Today’s funding…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.”

Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, said she was disappointed the strategy contained no new policies or funding commitments. 

She added: “The strategy rightly identifies that we need to make better use of unavoidable wastes by converting them into low-carbon, high-value resources – and converting organic wastes into renewable energy and natural fertiliser through anaerobic digestion (AD) is a perfect example of this.

“But it will be impossible for the AD industry to do this to its full potential without concrete action from government to support the separation and processing of these waste feedstocks.

”One obvious example is inedible food waste: we are still awaiting the long-overdue resources and waste strategy, which – if the Government is seriously committed to the bioeconomy – must include a commitment to universal separate food waste collections.”

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