£500k boost for UK recycling as Ecosurety Exploration Fund winners revealed

Four UK based innovation and research projects offering practical and impactful recycling and reuse solutions have been awarded a total of £500,000 by the Ecosurety Exploration Fund, providing a vital boost to the UK recycling sector and helping to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

The projects, which tackle a diverse range of issues including the recyclability of post-consumer plastic film, the high level of electricals going to landfill, the low levels of recycling on urban housing estates and innovative technology for the lithium-ion battery recycling sector – were selected for their originality, viability and potential long-term impact.

The Ecosurety Exploration Fund was launched in November 2019 with a view to providing a visible funding route for companies, charities, not-for-profits, academic institutions and the public sector working on projects addressing the environmental challenges presented by packaging, batteries or e-waste.

Our vision when we set up the Ecosurety Exploration Fund was to provide a vital springboard for projects that offer truly viable and innovative solutions to the challenges that packaging, batteries and e-waste currently pose to the environment.

Offering a total of £1million across three years, the Ecosurety Exploration Fund is the first such opportunity to be launched by a UK compliance scheme. It builds on Ecosurety’s experience in supporting innovative projects and new technologies across the waste and recycling sector.

Shortlisted applications to the Ecosurety Exploration Fund were judged by a high-profile panel of ten independent experts from industry and non-governmental organisations and businesses, including Mike Barry, Strategic Sustainability Expert and former Director of Sustainability at Marks & Spencer, Libby Peake, Senior Policy Advisor at Green Alliance and Alison Bramfitt, Group Packaging Manager at Nestlé.

Ecosurety Exploration Fund projects for 2020

  • Fit for Reuse – Alleviating poverty through electricals reuse Led by The Reuse Network, the Fit for Reuse project will create up-to-date guidance on electrical goods repair and reuse, in line with WEEE / EEE standards. In doing this, the project can help tackle the growing mountain of old or unused electricals being recycled or sent to landfill and, through the Reuse Network, provide more high quality, repaired electrical goods to people that need them.
  • BOSS 2D – Accelerating flexible plastic film recycling – Ecosurety Exploration Funding will enable Newcastle-based Impact Recycling to scale up its BOSS 2D technology (Baffled Oscillation Separation System) for post-consumer plastic packaging. BOSS 2D is a new, disruptive technology that does not exist in the market which will establish the first commercial scale automated process, capable of recycling up to two tonnes an hour of post-consumer plastic film packaging to produce a high purity PE and PP film, allowing it to be used directly in consumer products.
  • CellMine – Closing the loop on lithium-ion batteries Sales of lithium ion batteries are projected to grow to $1tn by 2024, largely driven by governments driving legislation on electric vehicles. However, current supplies of rare earth materials used in their manufacture are inadequate to meet our long-term needs and existing recycling technologies are inefficient and environmentally hazardous. Ecosurety Exploration Funding for Impact Laboratories to advance the CellMine project will enable a new low-energy, low cost recycling process to be explored. The process can be used to selectively recover rare earth metals used in lithium ion batteries (such as lithium, cobalt and manganese) in an environmentally friendly way, thereby helping to close the loop on the lithium ion battery lifecycle.
  • Maximising recycling in purpose-built flats – Despite the fact that purpose-built flats make up 37% of London’s residential accommodation, capture of dry mixed recycling is poor. Ecosurety Exploration Fund money will enable the London Waste & Recycling Board to trial a series of new interventions and facilities across four estates in the capital with a view to increasing the quantity and quality of dry mixed recycling, textiles and e-waste, as well as other materials which have high embedded carbon values such as food. Findings from this research will then be shared with London’s local authorities and building managers so that they can implement the most impactful changes.

Scaling up solutions for a circular economy

Display testing – Reuse Network

Commenting on the successful entries, Mike Barry, former M&S Plan A creator and Sustainable change maker said: “We need to create a circular economy urgently, but we lack many of the practical technologies, standards and behaviour changes to make it happen. The rigorous judging process of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund has helped us to identify innovators who could be real game-changers in developing and scaling the solutions we need.”

Commenting on the winning projects, James Piper, CEO of Ecosurety said, “Our vision when we set up the Ecosurety Exploration Fund was to provide a vital springboard for projects that offer truly viable and innovative solutions to the challenges that packaging, batteries and e-waste currently pose to the environment.

“Not only were we were bowled over by the high calibre of entries, we were hugely encouraged to see such a diverse and exciting range of ideas. We would like to thank everyone for submitting their funding applications in what I know has been a particularly challenging year.”

James Piper continued, “Ecosurety remains committed to supporting the UK recycling and innovation sector through strategic investment. It is only by supporting projects like these will we find viable and tangible solutions to some of the most pressing issues around waste, resource use and material scarcity.”

The Ecosurety Exploration Fund was launched in November 2019. This is the first of three rounds of funding to be awarded by Ecosurety. Each year funding of up to £150k can be applied for by projects which can be completed over a 12-month period. Details of the second Ecosurety Exploration Funding round will be provided in early 2021.

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