Scientists at the University of York will lead Government-backed research into potentially converting waste biomass and carbon dioxide into polymers.
Waste materials such as orange peel, pine needles and sawdust will be investigated as potential replacements for petrochemically-derived polymers.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has awarded the University’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (GCCE) £3 million to develop industrially viable plastics from waste materials.
Industrial partners including Lotte Chemical UK, Econic Technologies, Plaxica and Bayer will also be involved.
GCCE director Professor James Clark, its newly appointed Professor of Green Chemistry Professor Michael North and Dr Thomas Farmer will lead the project.
Professor Clark said: “Plastics, and the polymers that make them, represent one of the greatest challenges for sustainable development since they are almost entirely sourced from non-renewable resources but are ubiquitous in modern life.
“By bringing together Michael North’s expertise in carbon dioxide chemistry with the engineering skills of partners at Imperial College and Newcastle, the core expertise in renewable resources and clean synthesis of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, we can tackle this major societal challenge.”