Businesses in the UK are being offered up to £6 million for innovative solutions to reduce plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
Innovate UK and Sky Ocean Ventures have joined forces to provide the funding, with the first part of the competition inviting projects that reduce plastic waste and pollution of the wider environment and promote a circular economy.
Official figures from the UN suggest more than eight million tonnes of plastic enter the water every year, killing up to one million sea birds and 100,000 mammals, turtles and fish.
Unless significant action is taken, the amount of plastics in the seas is expected to triple by 2025.
Projects could include developing new, sustainable polymer materials, sustainable plastic alternatives, new product designs, alternative business models and supply chains that use less plastic and technology-enabled models that change consumer behaviours.
They could also include new recycling processes, including collecting, sorting and processing of waste plastics and increasing the value of recycled polymers.
Applications should identify where revenue generation and growth will occur in the UK as a result of the innovation being developed.
The first part of the competition is open and the deadline for applications is 13th March 2019.
Micro and small businesses are eligible to apply, working alone and they must be based in the UK and intend to carry out the work here.
Projects are expected to have total costs of between £100,000 and £200,000 and last up to 12 months.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “Heart-breaking images of wildlife suffering due to plastic waste have been a stark reminder that harmful pollution can have a devastating impact on our oceans. That is why, this time last year, the Prime Minister committed us to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
“We are investing more than ever before to find alternative materials to harmful plastics. We want innovators and businesses to get behind this too, helping us find new ways to cut down waste and pollution while growing their business to have global impact.”