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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S025308/1
Title: UKRI Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste - University of Cambridge
Principal Investigator: Reisner, Professor E
Other Investigators:
Daly, Professor R Soufani, Dr K Baumberg, Professor JJ
Aldridge, Professor D Cullen, Professor JM Elliott, Professor JA
Steger, Dr B Fisher, Dr A Dupree, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ANB Sensors Cambridge CleanTech Ltd Cambridgeshire County Council
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2019 Ends: 31 December 2020 Value (£): 1,035,067
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Chemical Synthetic Methodology
Materials Characterisation Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Oct 2018 UKRI Creative Circular Plastic Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
From the news on prime-time television to social media, we are frequently reminded of the need to help secure a healthy planet for future generations. Urgent action is required for waste plastics as eight million tons of plastic enter the oceans every year and plastic pollution has become a serious threat to our local and global ecosystem. The export of British waste has reached record levels in recent years as Britain does not have the requisite infrastructure to recycle its own plastic waste and severe shortages in landfills have become commonplace following China's restrictions in 2018 on foreign waste imports.

This programme will establish the 'Cambridge Centre for Circular Economy Approaches to Plastic Waste' with the aim of forming a globally-recognised think-tank and nurturing a multidisciplinary research culture. The centre will act as nucleus for a global network of partners and coordinate a range of Cambridge-based research projects to tackle contemporary challenges from the manufacturing of more sustainable materials to driving innovations in plastic recycling. This 18-months award will therefore lead the development of a sustainable plastics economy by understanding the local and global distributions of plastics, innovate alternatives to plastics and develop novel technologies for the utilisation of waste plastics.

Specifically, the programme will seed new research discoveries in Cambridge and we anticipate that a suit of potential new products, processes and business models will arise from the projects embedded in the programme, including: 1) new materials as alternatives to plastics in packaging films, 2) methods for biologically processing plastic waste, 3) technology for converting plastic waste with solar energy into chemicals, 4) means for generating electricity and hydrogen fuel from plastic waste, 5) production of high value plastic filaments for plastic waste for use in 3D printing, 6) understanding of plastics material flows within the economy and society, 7) technologies for late-stage marking and coding for tracking of different types of plastics, 8) New understanding of how consumers and the public deal with plastic waste, and 9) new business models for industry to support increased recycling and a reduction in plastic waste.

Throughout the programme we will work closely with industry partners, local government, charities and a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure that the activities are shaped by real world challenges. The outputs of the Programme will benefit from knowledge transfer activities to enable real-word impact by adopting the new technologies and approaches in support of circular economy approaches to eliminating and reducing plastic waste. Public seminars and public engagement activities will allow dissemination of novel technologies developed in this project and raise awareness to influence consumer behaviour for improved strategies to deal with plastic waste and implement next-generation recycling strategies.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.cam.ac.uk