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Davos: the inventions cutting plastic consumption

From BBC - January 22, 2018

Scenes of plastic-sullied oceans on the BBC's Blue Planet II may have prompted consumers, governments and retailers to pledge new approaches to packaging.

But the challenge of how to fulfil those pledges remains unresolved.

On Tuesday the World Economic Forum in Davos will be presented with a list of five innovations in materials science that may be part of the answer.

That's according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is pursuing solutions to the scourge of plastic waste.

At the last annual gathering of the world's movers and shakers in the Swiss ski resort, former round-the-world yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacAurthur launched her New Plastics Initiative. It challenges innovators, engineers, businesses and policymakers to find ways of reducing our addiction to plastic.

The first 1m of award money was granted late last year to design innovations intended to reduce the 30% of unrecycled waste plastic that comes from small items such as bottle lids and food sachets. Winners included the creators of edible spice sachets made from seaweed and origami coffee cups that do not require plastic lids.

This year, with plastic pollution higher than ever on the agenda, her organisation, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has identified five projects developing new materials that could change the way we package our food. The five will share funding of a further 1m.

Dame Ellen said the innovations on the list offered a way to tackle "the root causes of the problem - not just the symptoms".

Among the innovations are ways to replace multi-layered packaging materials that perform a variety of tasks - such as keeping food dry, dark and moist - and which supermarkets say are indispensable in the battle against food waste.

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