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.
A systems perspective
A ‘system’ in the context of the SSPP Challenge is a set of supply chain activities or components that interact with at least one other. They combine to serve the common objective of the challenge.
A ‘systems perspective’ means considering the functions of a system's parts based on their relations with one another and within the system's larger context. It would typically address the following components along the supply chain:
- The selection methods supporting a new packaging material, including how it incorporates a lifecycle approach and uses the minimum material necessary to maintain functionality.
- Whether a new packaging material meets the requirements of EN 13428 or ISO 18602 and other relevant standards on heavy metals and dangerous substances, including for contact with food substances.
- The impact of your project on the consumer, the change in consumer behaviour needed to deliver the project benefits, and how this will be achieved, for example through labelling.
- Whether the packaging can be captured in existing post-consumption collection systems in a form suitable for reuse or recycling.
- How the material will be differentiated or separated in a post-collection recycling or conversion processes
- Whether there is an off take market for recycled material.
Depending on the focus of your project, only some of these items might be relevant. You might also identify other components or activities inside and outside the plastic packaging supply chain, such as an external energy source that supplies power into a manufacturing or treatment process.
An example of a systems perspective would be a project delivering systems change with a reduction in plastic waste entering the environment relative to the current state-of-the-art.
This can be achieved adding value at each stage, for example:
- eliciting a change in consumer behaviour with smart labelling
- a change in kerbside collection capture rates of the packaging under consideration
- a change in recycling and recovery rates
- a change in uptake as a recycled product
- a measured reduction in material released to the environment
A lifecycle approach
All plastic packaging materials have a lifecycle. They are produced from raw materials or from recycled materials, transported to the shops, bought and used by consumers, and eventually discarded. At that point they are either captured and recycled, captured and disposed of in a controlled manner, or are released into the environment through littering and other behaviours.
At each phase in its lifecycle, packaging potentially affects the environment, economic and social systems.
A ‘lifecycle approach’ considers the environmental impact of each component or activity of the project and integrates these to create an assessment of the environmental impact of the whole project. A lifecycle approach avoids shifting a problem from one lifecycle stage to another, from one geographic area to another and from one environmental medium to another.
Positive or negative environmental impacts affect emissions to air, water and/or land, resulting in human and biotic exposure. There may be trade-offs in terms of environmental benefits and impacts.
The first consideration in reducing environmental impact is preventing emissions of by-products, waste and litter to the environment.
The second consideration in reducing environmental impact is the carbon footprint in terms of emissions of greenhouse gases.
The third consideration of environmental impact is the likely consequences of exposure of humans and species in the natural environment (such as fish, marine mammals and birds) to plastics your project will release (post-controls) compared to the system it is intended to replace or improve.
There may be other environmental impacts, such as:
- persistence in soil, freshwater and marine environments
- degradation and/or biodegradation in soil, freshwater and marine environments and the impact of consequential breakdown products
If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.
If you need more information about how to apply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 321 4357.
Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
Enterprise Europe Network
If you are a UK SME and successful in receiving an award, you will be contacted by your local Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) Innovation Advisor. They act on behalf of Innovate UK to discuss the growth opportunities for your business. They offer bespoke business support services to help you maximise your project and business potential. This service forms part of your Innovate UK offer under our commitment to help UK SMEs grow and scale. Please engage positively with your EEN contact so that, working together, you can determine the most appropriate form of growth support for your business.