Unilever, Jaguar and Tata Steel are among the firms sharing £4.5 million of government funding to develop new ways of improving resource efficiency throughout UK manufacturing supply chains
The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) is funding 12 collaborative projects that aim to reduce the use of materials such as rare earth metals, concrete and plastics through recovery, recycling or creating a more sustainable alternative.
The car-manufacturing firm Jaguar, for example, will be working with researchers at Brunel University, metal manufacturer Norton Aluminium and die-castings maker JVM Castings to develop a recyclable aluminium alloy that can be used in its castings, while Unilever will be leading a project focused on promoting the use of biodegradable plastic that can be used in injection moulding.
In announcing the successful bids, David Bott, director of innovation programmes at the TSB, highlighted the importance of all businesses taking a proactive approach to managing natural resources.
“Many key technologies for a sustainable economy rely on a relatively small number of high-tech materials which may become difficult to source in the future. To be competitive and prosperous in a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy, we need to develop products and processes that make better use of natural resources, generate less waste and have a reduced impact on the environment,” he said.
Rare earths and precious metals are frequently used in computer and electronic technologies and four of the funded projects are focused on either recovering such materials from batteries and electrodes, or attempting to omit them entirely in the creation of a product.
The TSB’s aim is to encourage UK organisations to work with their suppliers to create new technologies, products or processes that will help the country position itself at the forefront of resource-efficient manufacturing.