UKRI has introduced a £1.5 million competition for Liquid Food and Beverages in Refillable Packaging to its Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge, hoping to incentivise brands, retailers, and consumers to make use of reusable and refillable packaging.

Business-led innovation projects that pursue in-store, at-scale refill systems for high-volume liquid foods and beverages are encouraged to take part. Every entrant must involve one brand owner or large retail chain in their project, as well as run in-store trials in five or more stores that have lasted for at least six months.

The SSPP Challenge offers £60 million in funding and aspires to achieve complete sustainability for plastic packaging. By bolstering an uptake in reusables and refillables, it hopes to contribute towards this overall goal.

“Supporting reuse and refill is critical to reducing single-use plastic packaging,” says Paul Davidson, SSPP Challenge director. “For this competition, we are looking for bold and ambitious innovation proposals that can help to bring refill into the mainstream for every-day liquid products such as milk, soft drinks and sauces. It is about making it easy, convenient and cost-effective for consumers, retailers and the retail supply chain.”

The competition will run until 25th October 2023. Registration for the competition briefing webinar, further information about the scope and application process, and details of further Innovate UK support for applicants can be found here.

Xampla’s plant protein-based coating for paperboard packaging applications, CLUBZERØ’s ‘Sustainable-Packaging-as-a-Service’ concept, and TOPUP TRUCK’s mobile, zero-waste shop are amongst the refill solutions that have received funding from the SSPP Challenge this year.

REFORM, a female-led research project, also hopes to utilise a combined €4.99 million through UKRI and the EU’s Horizon Europe funding programme to replace metal and copper wiring in electronic devices and optimise sustainability in the functional electronics supply chain.

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