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£3m push to turn paper waste into plastic

A £3m investment in the development of plastics made from waste from the paper industry has been unveiled by Innovate UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The team hopes to produce chemicals from plant and agricultural waste that can be made into plastics, at a scale to compete with existing oil-based materials on both cost and functionality. Following this, fragrances and personal care products will also be on the way.

The research will be led by Southampton’s Biome Bioplastics in partnership with the Universities of Warwick, Liverpool and Leeds, as well as the Centre for Process Innovation in Teesside.

“The ready availability of high value, sustainable chemicals from natural sources will be a game changer for the bioplastics market,” said Biome Bioplastics CEO, Paul Mines.

“Success in this work would allow us to competitively challenge the dominance of oil-based polymers. The technology we are developing is part of the growing adoption of bio-based processes that is likely to deliver radical changes across the materials industry.”

Asked whether this will give way to a new wave of startup activity, Mines told Tech City News: “Success here will give rise to new business models, new solutions and new avenues of exploration across the sustainable chemicals industry.”