New network launched to help develop solutions to eliminate plastic waste

A bale of plastics for recycling

A new network supported by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) is aiming to bring together users of plastic products to develop the best solutions to eliminate plastic waste through networking and knowledge-sharing events.  

The Circular Plastics Network (UKCPN) will aim to create a coordinated, integrated and aligned community of stakeholders in order to share best practice, with the focus on finding short-term barriers to plastic circularity.  


It hopes to have 1,000 companies join as members by the end of 2019. 

UKCPN will facilitate:  

  • Reducing the volume of plastic waste within the UK 
  • Raising awareness and sharing practice on how to improve the rate of UK plastic recycling 
  • Sharing practice to reduce the levels of confusion and highlight user-centred design 
  • Showcasing innovation that is focused on decreased the quantity of plastic ending up in the environment.  

UKCPN will also aim to improve the country’s view on plastic and help reduce some of the 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste which goes unrecycled in the UK. 

The network will last for two years, with more than 12 events being undertaken throughout the UK over this period. 

A directory of companies that are relevant to the sector will be created for all the UKCPN members.  

Knowledge Transfer Manager for Polymers at KTN and programme leader Sally Beken said: “I feel passionate about this activity. We are dealing with a complex multifaceted problem where businesses, academia and individuals are all stakeholders. By bringing together the solution providers with the current plastic supply chain we can work together to find the best way forward. The UK Circular Plastics Network will facilitate changes we need to be resource efficient and preserve our planet for future generations.” 

The network forms part of the Plastics Research Innovation Fund (PRIF), which engages Britain’s scientists and innovators to help move the country towards a circular economic and sustainable approach to plastics. 
PRIF is managed by UKRI and delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Innovate UK, with oversight frim Duncan Wingham, executive chair of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).  

Duncan Wingham said: “The Plastics Research Innovation Fund will lead the way in finding new solutions to our current use of plastics, through recycling methods and developing alternative materials. UKRI is drawing UK researchers together with companies to address the challenge of reducing plastic waste entering the environment and creating an economy that is free from plastic waste.” 

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