New Fresh Produce Impact Hub to Find Innovative Solutions to Plastics Pollution
March 25, 2022
LAST WEEK, the UN Environment Assembly agreed on a new resolution on plastic pollution, which establishes a process towards a legally binding agreement by 2024. This is an opportunity for the private sector and governments to act firmly and decisively to tackle the plastics crisis.
Matching this momentum, Blue Skies, an award-winning fresh produce company, and Waitrose & Partners, have launched the Fresh Produce Impact Hub (FRESHPPACT). FRESHPPACT is a Research & Development Hub that aims to identify ground-breaking, sustainable solutions to challenges in the fresh produce industry and implement three Challenge Funds. The Hub initially seeks to fund solutions to address problem plastics found in agricultural mulch, workwear and packaging. Solutions may include new technology and business models that mitigate plastic pollution through material substitution, accelerated biodegradation and improved manufacturing and remanufacturing processes.
The UK Aid’s Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP) programme supports FRESHPPACT and has provided initial funding for the Hub. (For more information on SMEP’s plastics pollution mitigation initiative, click here.)
FRESHPPACT invites Expressions of Interest from organisations who would like to be involved in supporting the challenge funds and/ or identifying solutions.
Simon Derrick, Sustainability Manager at Blue Skies, states, “Wider collaboration from private sector partners who committed to supporting new solutions in this area is welcomed, both to broaden the impact and enhance the public good in this initiative”. Expressions of Interest may come from, but are not limited to, retailers, fresh produce companies, research organisations (including universities), and solutions providers.
FRESHPPACT has appointed the University of Northampton Centre for Sustainable Business Practices (CSBP) to coordinate the identification, evaluation and testing of promising solutions that have the potential to mitigate plastics pollution while offering social and environmental benefits. Since its launch, FRESHPPACT has organised and participated in a series of workshops, webinars, and site visits, to engage industry representatives in developing detailed challenge briefs intended to be introduced later this year via a web-based innovations platform.
FRESHPPACT seeks to find solutions that can be adopted across the entire industry and beyond and has, to date, engaged stakeholders representing government, retailers, fresh produce companies, industry groups, plastics experts and non-governmental organisations.
UK Aid is providing up to £5 million for research and development on tackling plastics pollution in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This is part of the five-year SMEP programme (2019-2024), implemented in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). SMEP supports innovative solutions to prevent manufacturing and plastics pollution from being released into the environment.