ISCF Future Plastic Packaging Solutions

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £2 million for early-stage projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 26th Oct 2020

Closes: 20th Jan 2021

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Programme for early-stage projects.

The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products. Its goals are to deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.


The aim of this competition is to support feasibility studies and industrial research that addresses widely known problems in relation to plastic packaging for consumer products.

You must explain how you are innovating to address one or more of the UK Plastics Pact targets. The benefits of the new approach must be quantified in terms of the Pact targets where possible. Any environmental impacts must be described and justified.

Projects must deliver one or more of the following:

  • a more circular plastic packaging value chain, with reduced environmental impacts, such as carbon emissions and improved recyclability
  • improved understanding of effective communication techniques to increase recycling rates and uptake of re-use/refill business models
  • more consistent data and increased knowledge relevant to the supply chain

Projects can include either:

  • the re-design of existing goods, services or business models


  • design of entirely new goods, services or business models to serve an existing need

You must quantify the benefits of the new approach compared to the system your project intends to replace or improve.

Your project must demonstrate a holistic approach, including the likely environmental impacts to:

  • humans
  • wildlife and
  • the broader environment

Your proposal must focus on addressing known problems in relation to plastic packaging as the primary application.

Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:

  • packaging suitable for reuse, refill and online delivery
  • marking and tracking of packaging to improve supply chain circularity or sustainability
  • films and flexibles in packaging applications
  • low carbon, non fossil polymers for packaging applications
  • business models leading to reduced waste plastic going to landfill
  • behaviour change leading to less packaging waste or higher recycling rates
  • food grade plastic packaging in the UK marketplace
  • diverting small format and medical packaging from incineration


This competition is not funding projects which:

  • do not have plastic packaging as the primary focus
  • do not meet the SSPP Challenge objectives stated in the scope
  • do not contribute to meeting one or more of the UK Plastics Pact targets
  • encourage or facilitate the export of plastic packaging whilst still classified as a waste
  • involve the production of any kind of fuel or direct energy generation from plastic waste
  • create any form of standalone ‘Design for Recycling’ guidance


To lead a project or work alone your organisation:

  • must be a UK registered business of any size, charity, non-government body or not-for-profit
  • must carry out its project work in the UK
  • must intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • can collaborate with UK registered businesses, charities, non-government body, not-for-profit or UK-based academic institutions, research organisations, research and technology organisations (RTOs)

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, charity, non-government body, not-for-profit, or UK based academic institution, research organisation or RTO
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited by the lead organisation


  • must start by 1 June 2021
  • must end by 30 November 2022
  • can last up to 18 months

Funding Costs

Innovate UK has allocated up to £2 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For a collaborative project, the research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.