Innovate UK’s Global Business Innovation Programme – South Africa: Sustainable Plastics

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Innovate UK is inviting ambitious companies to participate in the Global Business Innovation Programme

Delivered by Innovate UK EDGE, the programme consists of a preparation phase followed by a 5-day innovation visit focussed on South Africa, a post visit exploitation workshop and support of approximately 12 months from an Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist, helping your business maximise opportunities identified, including developing innovation projects with partners in the territory.


  • Explore Sustainable Packaging opportunities in South Africa.
  • A better understanding of the challenges and opportunities of doing business in South Africa.
  • Find potential innovation collaborators and partners and develop your network in the UK and globally.
  • Improve your company value proposition to international partners and investors.


Key Dates 

Closing Dates for applications: 27 March 

Successful applicants notified: 4 April

Pre-visit briefing #1: 12 April 

Pre-visit briefing #2: 26 April 

Innovation visit: 22-28 May 

Post-activity workshop: w/c 12 September 


Why South Africa?
With a population of c60million, an established plastic packaging production and treatment sector and approximately 800,000 tonnes per annum of mismanaged waste plastic, South Africa has the scale and infrastructure to benefit from exploiting innovative solutions for plastic waste. Additionally, SA has a well established and highly active informal waste sector, reported to supply between 80% and 90% of plastic packaging for recycling.

In 2019, virgin polymers made up 82% of polymer consumption. However, implementation of the EPR scheme in 2021 will drive market demand for good quality recyclate and collected recyclables. Disruptive new business models such as reuse and refill systems are growing. South Africa has shown it is ready to embrace new approaches to reducing plastic packaging waste.


Focus Areas


  • Flexible film packs including small formats
    • Advancing refill/reuse solutions that eliminate the use of small format sachets/packs.
    • Design solutions to ensure recyclability
    • Innovations that reduce the need for multilayer laminated packs e.g., monolayer materials to replace multilayer materials.
    • New, sustainable models for the collection, sorting and recycling of flexible packaging and small format packs and sachets.
  • Reusable packaging and refill business models
    • New reusable packaging design solutions to replace non recyclable or single use packs, with a focus in urban areas.
  • Collecting, cleaning, decontaminating, sorting, separating
    • New technology or innovations to support the informal waste sector with focus on transparent pricing, traceability, and inclusion.
    • Technology to reduce contamination, sorting, separation or recycling for rigid plastic or flexible plastic packaging, that is appropriate for the context (for example small scale, low cost, small footprint, modular).
  • End Market Development
    • Innovative recycling and sorting technology to overcome barriers to greater use of recycled plastics in new/existing applications

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