FRESHPPACT Impact Hub
A consortium consisting of the University of Northampton’s Center for Sustainable Business Practices, Blue Skies, in collaboration with Waitrose, has launched the FRESHPPACT Impact Hub (FRESHPPACT) to create a platform that facilitates research and development into the shared environmental challenges facing the fresh produce industry, specifically those with food supply chains rooted in developing or emerging economies. The Hub is designed to accommodate membership from retailers, manufacturers, and agribusinesses to address environmental challenges in the sector, including pervasive single-use plastic packaging, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), environmental pollution, and habitat loss associated with production and supply chain. Aligned to the SMEP Plastics Pollution Mitigation stream of work, the Hub’s first focus is plastics pollution mitigation, focusing on developing alternative solutions to plastic agricultural mulch, workwear and packaging used in the fresh produce industry in Ghana.
The Hub has launched three “Challenge Funds”, each accompanied by a Challenge Brief, to guide open Calls for Proposals from a range of solution providers. A package of funding support, with up to £33,000 for the initial work to design commercial trials, is available for promising solutions. Further funding is advanced for solutions with strong potential (for example, the purchase of equipment). Hub partners provide access to facilities to implement commercial trials/pilots. Once proven successful, Hub partners will assist with communication and visibility, thus promoting wider uptake of solutions in the sector.
The aim of the current phase of work was to identify and evaluate solutions that can mitigate plastic pollution caused by plastic packaging, workwear and agricultural mulch. From the plans submitted, the consortium agreed on which solutions providers to take through to Phase 3 to implement their proposed research and development plans. The scope of work included a field trip to Ghana to allow Solutions Providers to see the challenge first-hand, develop potential links with local partners and conduct additional research in order to develop their projects.
Following this, the team aims to contract the chosen Solution Providers and commence implementation of these projects.