Six UK innovators with partners in India, Chile, South Africa and Kenya have been awarded £1.2m to target recycling and tackle plastic packaging waste.

The International Circular Plastics Flagship Competition is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and delivered by climate change charity WRAP.

UKRI and the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge have already supported the development of Plastics Pacts aimed at reducing plastic packaging waste in each of the four countries. This latest funding will support technical innovation to help achieve the targets set out in the pacts and is targeted at specific barriers to reducing waste identified in each country.

SSPP Challenge Director Paul Davidson said: “With Earth Overshoot Day acting as a sombre reminder of the impact of human activity on the planet, the International Circular Plastics Flagship Competition is providing targeted support for innovation that addresses ‘live’ problems in the fight against plastic packaging waste and pollution.

“Driving change on the scale that is needed, however, requires sustained and shared innovation across the globe.

“The SSPP challenge is delighted to be working with the Innovate UK Global Team, WRAP and our Plastic Pact partners to deliver, support and share much needed research and innovation to end plastic packaging waste.”

The competition is part of a wider global partnership initiative between the Innovate UK Global Team, WRAP and the SSPP challenge, with the partnership recognising the compelling need for rapid, targeted and collaborative action. It is directly aligned to the aims of the United Nations Global Resolution to end plastic pollution.

The funding will target films and flexible packaging, reusable packaging, new business models and end market development.