Four UK based innovation and research projects offering practical and impactful recycling or reuse solutions have been awarded a total of £500,000.
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.
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.
Helping to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, the four funded projects 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.
The winning projects were selected for their originality, viability and potential long-term impact by a high-profile panel of ten independent experts from industry and non-governmental organisations, 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.
The 2020 winning projects are:
Fit for 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 that are usually recycled or sent to landfill and, through the Reuse Network, provide more high quality, repaired electrical goods to people that need them.
Craig Anderson, CEO of the Reuse Network commented “Thanks to Ecosurety and the judging panel, this grant funding will allow us to review, update and republish this guidance to ensure ongoing compliance with recent regulatory updates and standards, and to future-proof and be ready for the impact of eco-design and circular economy policy measures when they are put into practice.”
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.
David Walsh, CEO of Impact Recycling commented ”We are delighted to receive grant funding from the Ecosurety Exploration Fund for the development of the BOSS 2D technology. Recycling post-consumer waste film plastic is one of the biggest challenges our industry faces and now with this funding from Ecosurety we can accelerate the roll out of the BOSS 2D technology to provide a scalable automated solution.“
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 Solutions 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.
Tom Rose, Innovation Director at Impact Solutions commented “Lithium ion battery technology is the keystone in moving our society to a greener more sustainable future. But to make good on this promise we need to develop effective and economical ways to recycle these batteries at end-of-life and make sure the precious, limited resources used within them are not lost."
"CellMine hopes to tackle this challenge by developing a recovery method for these metals allowing them to be reused in new batteries again and again. This funding will be instrumental in allowing Impact to demonstrate the principles needed to take this technology from the benchtop to future commercialisation.”
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 widely so that they can implement the most impactful changes.
Gemma Scott, Local Authority Support Manager (Flats), LWARB commented “We’ve had some real success already in addressing low recycling levels on London’s estates, but we know we need to do much more as the number of flats in the capital continues to grow exponentially. Purpose-built flats and estates are a particular challenge, where recycling performance is well below what we need if we’re going to achieve recycling targets and tackle the climate emergency."
"We’re delighted to have been awarded this funding, which will provide extra facilities and support for residents to recycle their e-waste, textiles, food and packaging to help address the problem.”
A vital springboard for projects
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.”
“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.”
Some of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund judges commented:
"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.”
Mike Barry, former M&S Plan A creator and sustainable change maker
"It’s great to see Ecosurety stepping in and supporting projects that address the environmental impact of packaging, batteries and WEEE and I’m excited to see the output from the chosen four!”
Alison Bramfitt, Group Packaging Manager at Nestlé
"The level of innovation from all applicants was incredibly impressive. The selected projects, which may never have been progressed without the Exploration fund, will not only have an environmental benefit but in some cases go on to improve the lives of others."
Paul Franey, Senior manager repair and end of life, Virgin Media
Details of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund second round will be provided in early 2021.
If you would like to know more about any of the funded projects, please contact our team.
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.