The UK Government has launched a £4.7m fund for organisations to increase the recycling of textiles and hard-to-recycle plastic packaging, including plastic trays, pots, tubs, films and pouches.

Plastic recycling projects powered by the fund could include innovative sorting or segregation equipment and smarter systems to sort different polymers. For textiles, projects could include machinery for recycling, technology for disassembling and sorting, automated processes for removing items such as zips, and technology for sorting textiles by fibre type and colour.

UK environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. Valuable waste ending up in landfill makes no sense environmentally or economically.

“We are making progress but there is more to do, and I encourage organisations to apply for our multi-million-pound grant to drive-up the recycling of these valuable materials.”

The UK produces around 2.4 million tonnes of packaging waste per year, with around 40% of all plastic packaging produced used to package of goods, according to UK sustainability charity WRAP.

The recycling fund is part of an ongoing crackdown by the UK Government to drive sustainability programmes among UK companies. It confirmed a ban last month on the sale and use of plastic straws, drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England from April 2020.

Earlier this year, the UK Government awarded a four-way technology coalition an £800,000 grant to tackle black plastic waste and MPs backed a national plastic packaging plan for zero plastic waste exports. Major UK retailers were found to be failing to commit to sustainable fashion practices, by the Environmental Audit Committee, a House of Commons select committee.