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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y024729/1
Title: Transforming flexibles for a green packaging future
Principal Investigator: Lee, Professor K
Other Investigators:
Ward, Dr K Blaker, Dr JJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Imperial College London Unilever University of Leeds
University of Manchester, The
Department: Aeronautics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 June 2024 Ends: 31 May 2027 Value (£): 513,744
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design Processes Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Jul 2023 EPSRC Interview panel A - Prosperity Partnership early-stage collaborations Announced
28 Jun 2023 Prosperity Partnerships: Early Stage Collaborations Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Achieving a sustainable and net zero ambition for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) packaging is a massive industry-wide challenge. Unilever has strategic aims to eliminate plastic waste and achieve net zero across its business, both of which are linked to time-bound, publicly declared commitments. Probably the biggest contributor to Unilever's plastic waste footprint are products contained within single use, single dose flexible packaging. Today, there is no formal or informal collection infrastructure for these environmentally persistent formats, leading to very high levels of littering, with the rest ending up in landfill. There are also no viable sustainable alternatives for products that require a shelf-life of more than a few days. This Prosperity Partnership early-stage collaboration builds on the early-stage collaborations between Unilever and Imperial College, University of Leeds, as well as The University of Manchester to address the critical issues on the lack of a truly sustainable packaging alternative. Unilever and the academic partners have co-created a comprehensive research programme with the ambition to create truly sustainable, 100% biomass-derived flexible packaging that will be compatible with commercial high-speed product packaging line, can be recycled in current paper recycling streams and is biodegradable if leaked into the natural environment. Our target technology solutions are sachets and pouches for moisture sensitive solids. A unique and exciting feature of our approach is to draw on expertise across multiple disciplines, including lignocellulose chemistry, paper physics, materials science and chemical engineering sciences to manufacture truly sustainable flexible packaging, considering the entire chain from raw materials to products on the shelf. Our programme will thus deliver fundamental understanding, models, technologies and design methodologies in order to accelerate the deployment of truly sustainable packaging globally, pushing the boundary between fundamental research and real-world impact. Beyond its scientific achievements, the early-stage Prosperity Partnership will be positioning the UK at the leading edge of expertise and innovation in sustainability, contributing to the UK's growing reputation as a scientific powerhouse and innovator.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk