£750,000 funding awarded to Lancaster researchers to help shift consumers away from plastic food packaging

Lancaster University is one of 10 university-led research projects to receive a share of £8 million in funding from the UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to tackle the issue of plastic waste in the UK.

The research-awarded funding aims to find solutions to existing issues with plastic packaging, reduce plastic pollution and unlock barriers to create fundamental changes in the industry.

Lancaster University has been awarded £748,000 for its Plastic Packaging in Peoples’ Lives project, designed to fundamentally shift behaviours around food plastic packaging. Focusing on how plastic packaging is embedded in consumers’ lives, the project will undertake a holistic examination of the packaging supply chain to close the attitude-behaviours gap in consumers’ approaches to plastic use and waste.

A multi-disciplinary team of Lancaster experts involving academic specialists in marketing, supply chains, waste management, chemistry and material science will be based within Lancaster University Management School’s research centre for Consumer Insights. The project team will be working closely with partners, business, government, other researchers and households to provide research-based evidence for policymakers, supply chain businesses and consumers to drive towards cleaner, greener habits.

Dr Alison Stowell from Lancaster University Management School is the acting principle investigator. She said: “We are thrilled to receive this significant funding, joining a wider team that is driving real momentum behind the use and sustainable replacements of plastic.

“Plastics are entrenched in all our lives – and plays a particularly big role when it comes to our food and shopping experiences. Partnering with 11 businesses and retailers, we aim to combine the latest research with real-time business challenges, to ensure our solutions are responding directly to industry needs.

“The prospect of working in collaboration with our partners, and beyond, to develop solutions to fundamentally shift everyday habits and move away from the consumption of problematic and unnecessary plastics is a big but exciting challenge – and one that will reap huge rewards.”

Led by Prof Maria Piacentini, the research team will comprise of Dr Alison Stowell, Dr James Cronin, Dr Alex Skandalis, Prof Linda Hendry and Dr John Hardy.

Partners for this project include Waitrose & Partners; Booths Food, Wine & Grocery; Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses; Bells of Lazonby Ltd; Biotech Services Ltd; Lancaster City Council; Suez Recycling and Recovery UK Ltd; Preston Plastics Ltd; Precious Plastic Lancaster; The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining; Chartered Institute of Waste Management.