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Investment in plastic alternatives continues to rise

The Guardian and Ribena are the latest household names to take action on plastic waste, while the government has unveiled a new £6 million scheme for companies with innovative solutions.

The Guardian and Ribena are the latest household names to take action on plastic waste, while the government has unveiled a new £6 million scheme for companies with innovative solutions.

The Guardian has started switching plastic wrapping for supplements in its weekend paper to a compostable material made from potato starch, while Ribena owner Lucozade Ribena Suntory is rolling out a new light-weight, 100 per cent recycled plastic bottle which will save 325 tonnes of plastic a year.

Increasing investment

The companies are just two examples of a range of new plastic initiatives being launched by the private sector in January.

Elsewhere, a group of 28 global corporations - including ExxonMobil, Proctor & Gamble, Shell and waste companies Veolia and SUEZ - have launched the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW). Together, the founding members have committed over £1 billion to plastic initiatives, with the aim of investing $1.5 billion over the next five years.

In the UK, the government has just unveiled a new £6 million initiative, with the help of Sky, for businesses with innovative solutions to reduce pollution in the world’s oceans.

Grant funding worth £3 million from Innovate UK is being matched by private investment from Sky’s Ocean Ventures initiative.

Innovate UK has also just launched a UK Circular Plastics Network to bring together the diverse users of plastic products for networking and knowledge-sharing.

Beyond packaging?

Although most of the emphasis on plastic waste to date has been around packaging, experts now expect a shift towards broader plastic use in products.

In an interview with environmental news service edie, Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change - the government’s climate change watchdog - said “a more central and wide-reaching approach” involving the less “visible” plastics in products and supply chains was on the horizon.