We have previously looked at a variety of innovations which could replace plastic packaging and prevent plastic from ending up in the ocean. There is no doubt that innovation is key to solving the plastic problem; however, innovators are faced with an additional challenge when researching and developing an idea. This is because it must be taken into consideration that the benefits of innovations will only be realised if they are readily adopted by the wider public. To stimulate innovation which fits with people’s existing behaviour patterns, or is consciously designed to encourage and facilitate changes in behaviour, Innovate UK has recently opened a new funding competition entitled “Designing sustainable plastic solutions”.
Insights: plastic pollution
There are different innovations that are tackling the huge problem of plastic pollution. As a result of increased awareness of this problem, many of us are making changes to our lifestyle, for example, to reduce our reliance on single use plastic items such as straws, bags and bottles. But there is one particular form of plastic pollution that seems to have attracted relatively little attention so far – microfibres.
We previously reported on how technology which aims to end plastic pollution could be protected with patents and how a genetically modified enzyme capable of breaking down plastic is the subject of a patent application. While technology to improve how our plastic waste is managed is clearly important it only represents part of the story. What if we didn’t need to use the plastic in the first place? All over the world, innovators are working to end our penchant for polymers.