Two new grants have been unveiled today (11 June) to fund capital infrastructure projects in England which aim to help to drive up the recycling of plastic packaging and textiles.
The grants have been launched as part of the £18 million Resource Action Fund, launched by Defra in May 2019, and are focused on increasing reprocessing infrastructure for plastics and textiles.
The grants which will be managed by WRAP, will see these two sectors sharing up to £4.7 million, with applicants being able to apply for between £200,000 and £1 million.
The plastics grant will aim to support “pioneering new projects” which aim to help enable the recycling of plastic packaging such as pots, tubs and trays, and films and pouches and diverting it from landfill or incineration.
The focus of the textiles grant will be on supporting infrastructure that can better sort and process the large number of textiles and clothing and avoid them being discarded.
It could pave the way for the first ever textiles recycling plant in the UK, WRAP says.
Modernisation is key to making this happen and I am delighted that this significant amount of money is being made available to unlock and enable that process.
Launching the Funds today at the Resourcing the Future conference in London, WRAP director Peter Maddox said: “There is a growing public alarm about the impact of plastic and textiles on our planet. To really tackle this, we have to shift from the prevailing make, use and dispose culture to a more sustainable one in which we keep resources in use as many times as human ingenuity can conceive.
“Modernisation is key to making this happen and I am delighted that this significant amount of money is being made available to unlock and enable that process. I’m really excited to see what the applicants will bring to the table.”
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “I encourage organisations to apply to WRAP for our multi-million pound grant to drive-up the recycling of plastics and textiles.
“We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. It makes no sense economically or environmentally for these valuable materials to end up in landfill.”
The grants for plastics and textiles are split into two separate lots.
Lot 1: Plastics Packaging Recycling Grant Competition
Lot 1 seeks to support new projects that will provide new infrastructure and technologies to help significantly increase recycling capacity and capability for currently difficult to recycle plastic packaging, such as:
- Plastic trays, pots and tubs, in particular those made from PET
- Plastic films and pouches
- Recycling of plastic packaging into food and pharmaceutical grade
Around 40% of all plastic produced in the UK is used in the packaging of goods. Plastic packaging plays an important role in protecting goods and extending the shelf life of food products, and it remains a valuable resource once used for this purpose.
The UK generates around 2.4 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste per year. Recycling this material to use it again in the manufacture of new plastics keeps it as a resource in the economy, out of landfill and incineration, and delivers economic and environmental benefits by reducing the use of virgin plastics.
The grant aligns with the work of The UK Plastics Pact. Launched in 2018, The UK Plastics Pact is a collaborative initiative that is bringing together UK businesses across the plastics supply chain to tackle plastic pollution by transforming the way we use, make and dispose of plastic in the UK.
Lot 2: Textiles Recycling Grant Competition
Lot 2 will support the need for increased capacity for sorting, handling and reprocessing textiles. This targeted investment aims to aid reprocessing of textiles waste from municipal sources.
Increased textiles collection and reprocessing is required to help deliver against policy objectives set out in the Resource and Waste Strategy and Circular Economy Package (CEP). And whilst there is a strong market for reuse of clothing, there is a weak market for recycling of textiles.
WRAP’s research has identified that existing markets are relatively small and traditional, with little innovation or growth potential. With the CEP requirement for separate collections of textiles by 2025, new processes and markets are needed to avoid separately collected items simply being discarded.
This grant will help support work in this area, and supports WRAP’s findings in its fibre2fibre report, published in January.
This examines the economic factors influencing fibre2fibre recycling and attempts to unlock alternative sources to virgin fibres for manufacturing clothes and supports WRAP’s work to reduce the environmental impact of clothing under the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) 2020.