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15 August, 2021 - 17:39 By Tony Quested

Xampla shares £2m UKRI funding to address problems with plastic packaging

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has invested almost £2 million in 14 projects - including one in Cambridge from Xampla - to address consumer problems with plastic packaging.

Awarded funding through the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge, these projects will develop better options for future plastic packaging whether you’re in the kitchen, the bathroom or on the move.

Consumers will continue to be able to enjoy some of their favourite products and use essential medicines with a lower impact on the planet.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “People want to be able to buy products that are better for the environment and use less plastic.
“This fund is helping to create new packaging materials that are less harmful to the planet, as well as packaging for products that can either be refilled or easily recycled at home.”

Xampla, a spin-out from the Knowles Lab at The University of Cambridge, has created the world’s first plant protein material for commercial use. Its next generation material performs like synthetic polymers but decomposes naturally and fully without harming the environment.

Earlier this year, researchers at the laboratory detailed how they could create a polymer film from plant protein that is sustainable, scalable and 100 percent natural. Made entirely from plant protein which can be sourced as a by-product of the agriculture industry, the resulting material can be consumed in nature after use like any natural waste, leaving no pollutants behind.

The material’s functionality is consistent with conventional plastic, but it requires no chemical cross-linking used in bio-polymers to give them the strength and flexibility of plastic. The chemicals used in cross-linking are often unsustainable and can even leave toxic pollutants behind once disposed of.

Xampla’s mission is to replace the everyday single-use plastics you see all around, like sachets and flexible packaging films and the less obvious, such as microplastics within liquids and lotions.

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