Plastics innovation: towards zero waste

Key Features

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £4 million to develop new solutions to reduce persistent plastics entering our environment.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £4 million

Opens: 18th Jun 2018

Closes: 8th Aug 2018

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £4 million in innovation projects to reduce the harm that plastics do to our environment and increase productivity and growth of the UK economy.


The aim of this competition is to support innovative activities that result in less persistent plastic waste in our environment, with the potential to deliver circular economy approaches to plastic use (including for polymer-based textiles and elastomers). For example, this could include:

  • developing new polymer materials
  • new product designs
  • new recycling processes
  • increasing the value of recycled polymer
  • behaviour focussed innovation to reduce plastic waste

Projects should describe how they aim to reduce plastic waste going to landfill or the wider environment.

Projects related to compostable or biodegradable approaches are in scope.

You should clearly describe where revenue generation and growth will occur in the UK as a result of the innovation and its exploitation.

The benefits of the new approach should be quantified as far as possible, and any assumptions regarding market size and environmental impacts described and justified.

Projects must start by 1 December 2018 and end by 31 December 2020 and last between 3 months and 24 months.

Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects which may include feasibility studies, industrial research projects or experimental development projects.


To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK based business, academic organisation, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

All projects must involve an SME.

Project Costs

Your project’s total costs should be between £50,000 and £1 million.

Projects with costs:

  • under £100,000 can be single or collaborative but must be led by an SME
  • £100,000 or more must be collaborative and involve an SME

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

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

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business


Applications related to recovering energy from waste via incineration are excluded.