Written by: Kimberly White

The UK Government has announced a new investment partnership that offers up to £6 million in grant and private funding for businesses with innovative solutions to tackle the world’s plastic pollution problem.

The partnership is an effort between Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency and part of UK Research and Innovation, and Sky Ocean Ventures, a new impact investment vehicle from Sky.

Innovate UK will provide £3 in grants and Sky Ocean Ventures will offer the same amount in private investment.

Innovate UK Interim Executive Chair, Ian Campbell stated, “Plastic waste has created a crisis that needs a global resolution. We need businesses, investors, government and researchers pulling in the same direction, creating workable solutions that people will be able to see on the shelves before it’s too late.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 5723949892_b624c51c37_b-1024x768.jpg
Image credit: Kevin Poh

In 2018, World Wildlife Fund UK reported that the amount of plastic waste produced by the United Kingdom would rise from 5.2 million tons to 6.3 million tons by 2030– a rise equivalent to 87,000 double decker buses. A staggering 67% of the waste is from packaging alone.

The responsibility falls on both the individual consumer and the companies producing plastic. CEO of WWF UK, Tanya Steele, stated, “We must act now – banning avoidable single-use plastic by 2025 – and introducing incentives to help people and businesses make the right choices to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Applications are now open for the first part of the funding competition. Businesses and innovators are encouraged to apply for project funding. The competition invites applications from projects focused on promoting a circular economy while reducing plastic waste and pollution.

According to the announcement by the UK Government, projects could include:

  • developing new, sustainable polymer materials
  • alternative business models and supply chains that use less plastic
  • technology-enabled models that change consumer behaviors

For a full list of potential project scopes, please visit the UK Government’s website.

This is the latest development in Sky’s battle against single-use plastics. In 2017, the media giant was the first FTSE 100 company to commit to being free from single-use plastics by 2020.

Their commitment meant removing 1,000 tonnes of plastic from their supply chain and operations. Sky’s packaging has already seen an overhaul with the Sky Soundbox and NOW TV Smart Stick being single-use plastic-free.

In addition to the accelerator competition, Sky has committed £25 million to find solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. With the help of partners and businesses, Sky hopes to scale that commitment to £100 million.

Sky has also announced a new incubator project, Innovators in Residence. To enable businesses to gain insight from consumer responses as well as product practicality, the project offers businesses the chance to pilot and test their products at Sky’s London campus. Business leaders will also benefit from mentoring from the team at Sky.

Applications are open until March 13, 2019

To apply, visit the Innovation Funding Service.

Header Image Credit: MichaelisScientists/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)