The future of new materials: How innovation solves the challenges of plastic pollution 2018-05-30T10:39:39+01:00
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Research and development to solve the issue of plastic pollution

With 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste on earth and worrying predictions that plastic will outweigh fish by 2050, it’s clear that change is needed – so what’s the solution?

Research and development

World change requires hard work and dedication. We need to find better ways to live which is why Research and Development Tax Credits are given as an incentive for UK businesses to drive their projects forward – the hmrc r&d tax credit calculator being a great way to work out the financial relief you may be entitled to.

The environment is in need of a desperate helping hand, but thankfully an influx of innovative new materials looks set to change the future of plastic pollution.

What’s out there?

Alternatives to plastic are being developed all the time, with the most notable being:

Shrilk

This material might sound slightly odd – and that’s partly because it is, but it could also dramatically reduce the plastic problem we’re currently facing. What is it you ask? Well, back in 2012, scientists found a way to make synthetic plastic by combing silk with chitin (found in shrimp shells). The two words ‘shrimp’ + ‘silk’ resulted in ‘shilk.’

Since then, scientists have found a way to create the plastic without silk. This new product is lightweight and durable like plastic but decomposes within two weeks after it’s discarded.

Interestingly, this material could also benefit the medical sector and reduce unnecessary waste emerging from hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Strong yet completely biodegradable it could potentially be used to stitch wounds or be used as a scaffold for tissue regeneration.

Compostable paper

Walk past a coffee shop and you’ll probably find it’s overrunning with coffee fanatics getting their favourite beverage ‘to go’ – but do we really need the ever-popular polystyrene cup? Alternatives are currently being considered to reduce the amount of polystyrene ending up in landfills with compostable paper cups being fit for purpose alongside other more ‘out there’ ideas including cups made from edible materials such as grain wafers. High-tech bioplastic materials made from plant matter are also on the alternatives list and could help address the plastic crisis.

A change in approach

Of course, going green and protecting the environment does not just involve making new products. This helps, of course, but we also need to change our attitude and approach when it comes to recycling. The supermarket chain Iceland is already doing just that. They recently pledged to ditch plastic packaging materials used for their own-brand goods giving themselves a five year deadline.

Impressive stuff, but this is something we should all be thinking about on a smaller scale. For example, do we really need to use plastic straws? Maybe not – especially when you hear 5 billion straws are discarded in London every year alone.

It all comes down to bold innovation and tackling issues head on. To find out more about funding for innovative projects, take a look at hmrc r&d tax credits statistics.

Average R&D tax claim is £56,000

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