US$1.32m to accelerate waste-reduction innovation and research – The Chemical Engineer

Ecosurety

ECOSURETY, a UK producer responsibility compliance scheme, has launched a £1m (US$1.32m) innovation and research fund for UK-based projects that aim to reduce the negative environmental impacts of packaging, batteries, and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

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The total £1m Ecosurety Exploration Fund will consist of individual grants of up to £150,000. Launched in November, the fund will be spread across three years and applications will be accepted each year.

The fund “builds on Ecosurety’s experience in supporting innovative projects and new technologies across the waste and recycling sector by providing a visible funding route for companies, charities, not-for-profits and academic institutions”.

Ecosurety says that it recognises that innovation and investment into recycling technologies for packaging, batteries, and WEEE is the best direct route to increase UK recycling capacity. However, it also acknowledges the need for reduction and reuse strategies to minimise the negative environmental effects of these products. As such, the fund is open to projects that tackle packaging, batteries, and WEEE across their full lifecycles; “from production, use, and collection through to their end-of-life treatment or reuse”.

Funded projects could include “innovation technologies, awareness campaigns, processes, materials, or research into improving existing behaviours and systems”. Ecosurety is interested in projects that could have impact beyond the initially-funded projects.

Libby Peake, Senior Advisor at environment think-tank Green Alliance, said that “finding new solutions to the old problems associated with waste packaging, batteries and electricals will prove absolutely vital.”

Applicants – the project leaders as well as the projects themselves – must be UK-based. Additionally, the projects to be funded must be completed within 12 months of receiving funding and offer “measurable impacts and tangible solutions”.

While individual applications are eligible for a maximum of £150,000, Ecosurety says that it proactively encourages collaboration. Any project applications that require further funding must have secured it to ensure projects are proceedable.

Entries will be considered against a list compiled by Ecosurety before being judged by an expert panel of five major producers and five individual experts from industry, non-governmental organisations, and businesses.

So far, the judging panel includes Peake; Peter Maddox, Director of WRAP, a non-profit sustainable resources organisation; and Mike Barry, former Director of Marks and Spencer’s Sustainable Business (Plan A).

Peake said: “We are just waking up to the problems caused by our throwaway society in the UK and the inadequacy of our recycling systems. It’s the start of a journey that will hopefully see considerable changes in how we think about and use resources.”

Peter Maddox said: “The move to a circular economy for packaging, e-waste and batteries requires innovative and bold new thinking. Harnessing new designs, technologies and ideas will ensure that our own recycling infrastructure continues to develop whilst solutions to minimise the wider environmental impacts of these products are also found.”

Ecosurety CEO James Piper said: “Ecosurety remains committed to boosting recycling rates in the UK as well as playing its part in the transition to a circular waste economy. We encourage all organisations with eligible projects to apply to the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and look forward to reviewing the entries.”