Funding competition ISCF SSPP Collecting flexible plastic packaging waste at home

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £250,000 to develop innovative ideas that help with the collection of flexible packaging waste from households.

This competition is now closed.

Start new application

Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £250,000 from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Programme.

The aim of this competition is to fund projects that will develop innovative ideas to help with the collection of flexible plastic packaging waste from households. The ultimate goal being the reduction of the amount of waste ending up in landfill or in the environment.

The selected projects will have the opportunity to develop their concept, and then present and prototype their idea as part of a nationwide trial to collect flexible plastic packaging waste from UK households.

Your project must:

  • develop an idea and propose a design for containing or collecting household flexible plastic packaging waste that is easy to store in the home and easy to carry or transport
  • encourage householders to collect flexible plastic packaging waste as a separate waste stream for kerbside collection or for transporting to collection points in supermarkets

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s grant funding request must be between £25,000 and £50,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request between £25,000 and £50,000
  • start by 1 September 2023
  • end by 29 February 2024
  • last between 3 and 6 months
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

You will be made ineligible if you have exceeded the £315,000 Minimal Financial Assistance limit during the current and previous 2 financial years.

You must submit a complete declaration as part of your application.

Lead organisation

To apply your organisation must be:

  • a UK registered business of any size
  • charity
  • not for profit

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

You can only apply into this competition with 1 application. We will only award grant funding to 1 project per business or organisation.

Previous applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Minimal Financial Assistance (and De minimis where applicable)

Grant funding in this competition is awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA). This allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 to an enterprise in a 3-year rolling financial period.

In your application, you will be asked to declare previous funding received by you. This will form part of the financial checks ahead of Innovate UK making a formal grant offer.

To establish your eligibility, we need to check that our support added to the amount you have previously received does not exceed the limit of £315,000 in the ‘applicable period’.

The applicable period is made up of:

(a) the elapsed part of the current financial year, and

(b) the two financial years immediately preceding the current financial year.

You must include any funding which you have received during the applicable period under:

You do not need to include aid or subsidies which have been granted on a different basis, for example, an aid award granted under the General Block Exemption Regulation.

Further information about the Subsidy Control Act 2022 requirements can be found in the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (

EU Commission rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022, you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or your legal obligations.


We have allocated up to £250,000 to fund innovation projects in this competition.

You can request 100% funding for your eligible project costs up to a maximum of £50,000.

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance.

If you are applying for an award funded under European Commission Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to fund projects that will develop innovative ideas to help with the collection of flexible plastic packaging waste from households. The ultimate goal being the reduction of the amount of waste ending up in landfill or in the environment.

Your project must:

  • develop an idea and propose a design for containing or collecting household flexible plastic packaging waste that is easy to store in the home and easy to carry or transport
  • encourage householders to collect flexible plastic packaging waste as a separate waste stream for kerbside collection or for transporting to collection points in supermarkets

Functional and technical requirements

Your proposed containing or collecting solutions for household flexible plastic packaging waste:

  • must be easy to use by all householders and must take into consideration equality, diversity and inclusion
  • must be easy to clean if designed for multi-use, or be able to be recycled along with the collected flexible plastic packaging
  • should reduce the volume so that more flexible plastic packaging waste can be stored in a manageable space
  • must not reduce the flexible plastic to small parts, and flexible plastics must remain as separable items for onward sorting
  • would ideally be designed to encourage the collection of as much material as possible
  • should be strong enough to take the wear and tear of regular use and be kept in the home environment for extended periods and have a multi-year service life, if designed for multi-use
  • should consider the durability of any mechanisms, such as compression
  • if your solution is short-lived or single use, you must justify this approach in terms of carbon footprint and end of life
  • must be recyclable past useful life

The project should take into account the following considerations:

  • available space within typical UK households
  • typical UK weather conditions if being placed outside
  • manufacture from recycled plastics is encouraged
  • price per unit, containers may be bought by individual households or in bulk for local authority issue
  • aesthetics, the design should be pleasing so as to encourage its use as a waste collection system within the home

We encourage the use of human-centred research and design principles, working in new ways and involving hands-on customer and user research as a means of informing and testing novel ideas.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects:

  • that do not focus on the collection of existing flexible plastic packaging waste arising in the UK
  • that develop alternative packaging materials
  • that involve heating or melting the flexible plastic packaging waste to condense it
  • that involve sealing the flexible plastic packaging waste in plastic bags
  • that involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • that involve primary production in agriculture
  • with activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • not eligible to receive Minimal Financial Assistance

We cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country.
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product

22 February 2023
Online briefing event: watch the recording
27 February 2023
Competition opens
12 April 2023 11:00am
Competition closes
15 May 2023
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:

  • that all the information provided in the application is correct
  • your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
  • all sections of the application are marked as complete

You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

Accessibility and inclusion

We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes providing support, in the form of reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us. Read more on how we are making our application process more accessible and inclusive for everyone.

You must contact us as early as possible in the application process. We recommend contacting us at least 15 working days before the competition closing date to ensure we can provide you with the most suitable support possible.

You can contact us by emailing or calling 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

1. Project details

This section provides background for your application and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which people from your organisation will work with you on the project and invite those people to help complete the application.

Application details

Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be sent for assessment. We will tell you the reason why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score all your answers apart from questions 1 and 2. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess.

You must answer all questions. Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation and any subcontractors working on your project.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Question 2. Minimal Financial Assistance declaration (not scored)

You must download the declaration template. You must complete this, declaring any funding received under Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights) or De minimis awards, (from any source of public funding) in the applicable period.

You must complete all the fields on your form before uploading.

You must write “declaration attached” in the question text box.

You must upload the completed declaration as an appendix. It must be a PDF and the font must be legible at 100% zoom.

You must keep all documentation relating to Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights) and other De minimis awards for a period of 6 years and be prepared to release it to any public funding body which requests it.

Question 3. Your idea – response to challenge identified

What is your idea?

Your answer must address:

  • what the idea is and include an outline description of your proposed solution
  • how your idea will meet the functional and technical requirements
  • what is innovative about your solution
  • how will you consider equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for the users of your solution
  • how your solution will minimise environmental impacts
  • the target cost per household for your solution

A diagram or illustration of your idea can be included as an appendix – no more than 1 A4 page long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Project delivery

What activities, approaches and methods will you be delivering and how will this be achieved?


  • the approach you will take to developing your solution all the way to prototype, including any design methodologies
  • how you would like to engage with flexible plastic packaging waste collection trials from UK households, what key information you will need from them to feed into the development of your solution
  • the key activities to take place over the course of the project, your approach to project management, provide a project plan as an appendix
  • your business capability to deliver this project, including relevant expertise and track records
  • the resources you will require for the project and how quickly you can mobilise them, including the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team and any external resources or subcontractors
  • your capability to deliver in the required timeframe given your existing business activities or constraints

You must provide an appendix with your project plan or Gantt chart and a short summary of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 5. Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

Your response must include:

  • the grant you are requesting
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • the balance of costs across the project partners and subcontractors if applicable
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to your project

Question 6. Exploitation capabilities

How will you take your solution forward?


  • how you will continue to support the development of your solution following completion of the project, with a view towards its eventual commercialisation
  • any barriers to the adoption of your solution and how you plan to overcome them
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example why your solution would encourage recycling habit
  • the target markets for the project outcomes and any other potential markets: domestic, international or both
  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your route to market
  • your freedom to operate
  • the impact on your business and wider economic, societal and environmental impacts

Question 7. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?


  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, regulatory, commercial, managerial and environmental risks
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, or data sets
  • any opportunities that could arise

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. Added value

How will this public funding help you to accelerate or enhance your approach to developing your project towards commercialisation? What impact would this award have on the organisations involved?


  • what advantages public funding would offer your project, for example, appeal to investors, more partners, reduced risk or a faster route to market (this list is not exhaustive)
  • the likely impact of the project outcomes on the organisations involved
  • what other routes of investment you have already approached
  • what your project would look like without public funding
  • how this project would change the R&D activities of all the organisations involved

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge

The SSPP Challenge aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products. Its goals are to deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.

Among the various activities it funds, the SSPP Challenge is supporting the FlexCollect project which trials flexible plastic packaging waste collections from households in a number of local authorities.

To encourage greater levels of flexible plastic packaging waste recycling in the UK, a user-friendly container is needed for in-home use to encourage the household to adopt plastic film recycling.

The container and associated approach of storage and collection should encourage all members of the household to use it as a means to collect flexible plastic packaging waste and not put them within household black bag waste.

Flexible Plastic Packaging

Flexible plastic packaging can be defined as packaging that flexes easily and is made of either single or multiple layers of materials, including plastic films, cling film, metallic layered plastics (such as crisp packets), and pouches. Simply put, any material which can be scrunched up in the hand with little effort is considered flexible plastic packaging.

Estimates of 895,000 tonnes of flexible plastic packaging are placed on the UK market per annum, equating to 215 billion packs or individual products.

Flexible plastic packaging:

  • represents nearly a quarter of all UK consumer plastic packaging, but only 6% is currently recycled
  • accounts for 10% of all packaging materials across Europe and is responsible for packing 40% of products
  • can need different methods to reprocess back into usable products and needs collecting in a separate waste stream to make up sufficient quantities to send to a commercial processing plant

On average, a typical household creates waste of 70 flexible packaging items per week of various sizes and material types, equivalent to 292g of waste:

  • on average per week 50 of these items are dry materials with an average total weight of 210g and 20 of these items are wet materials, with an average total weight of 82g
  • the rate of flexible plastic packaging captured for recycling out of the total produced weekly by a typical household is 56%, that is on average 39 items weighing 164g
  • the capture rate can be broken down into dry materials – 28 items with an average total weight of 118g – and wet materials – 11 items with an average total weight of 46g

Figures in these bullet points are for packaging only and any contamination within these materials when placed in the containers, would increase the weight.

How flexible plastic packaging waste is collected in the UK

Household collections for flexible plastic packaging waste are not common in the UK. Where they exist, they are currently organised by local authorities and are either run directly by the authority themselves or through contracts with private companies.

Collection points for flexible plastic packaging waste are available within many large supermarkets across the UK, but a transition to collection from home is underway.

Data sharing

This competition is operated by Innovate UK.

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with our own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application. Innovate UK’s Privacy Policy is accessible here.

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.

These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.

We encourage you to engage with EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Next steps

If you are successful with this application, you will be asked to set up your project.

You must follow the unique link embedded in your email notification. This takes you to your IFS Set Up portal, the tool that Innovate UK uses to gather necessary information before we can allow your project to begin.

You will need to provide:

  • the name and contact details of your project manager and project finance lead
  • a redacted copy of your bank details
  • an exploitation plan

In order to process your claims, we need to make sure that the bank details you give to us relate to a UK high street bank that is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). The account must have a BACS clearing facility and be in the same company name as your application.

If you have any doubts that your bank account will not meet Innovate UK's funding criteria, you can use the sort code checker. If you input the sort code and find a tick next to the ‘BACS Direct Credit payments can be sent to this sort code’, this will give you an indication that the bank account you hold is acceptable.

Finance checks

We will carry out checks to make sure you are an established company with access to the funds necessary to complete the project.

You must check your IFS portal regularly and respond to any requests we have sent for additional information to avoid any delays.

Failure to complete project setup may result in your grant offer being withdrawn.

Your Grant offer Letter (GoL)

Once you have successfully completed project setup, we will issue your GoL.

The GoL will be made available on your IFS portal. You will need to sign and upload this before you start your project.

Your GoL will show the start date for your project, do not start your project before this date. Any costs incurred before your start date cannot be claimed as part of your grant.

If your application is unsuccessful

If you are unsuccessful with your application this time, you can view feedback from the assessors. This will be available to you on your IFS portal following notification.

Your application may score well and receive positive feedback from the assessors but be unsuccessful. This can be because your average score has not reached the funding threshold for this competition or your project has not been selected under the portfolio approach if applied to this competition.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Need help with this service? Contact us