Research Centre will battle “disastrous” plastics pollution in agriculture and food

A new partnership has been forged to find solutions to what the United Nations has called the “disastrous” way plastic is used in farming.

In a report released in December 2021, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says there is “irrefutable” evidence of the need for better management of the millions of tonnes of plastics used in the food and farming system each year.

Now the University of Northampton has teamed up with prepared fruit manufacturer Blue Skies and retailer Waitrose & Partners to launch a research and development hub that will find ground-breaking solutions to sustainability challenges, with its first focus being on environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastics.

The Fresh Produce Impact Hub (FRESHPPACT) will bring together retailers, manufacturers and agribusinesses rooted in developing or emerging economies, and work with research partners to rapidly evaluate, test and adopt the most ground-breaking solutions.

The University of Northampton’s Centre for Sustainable Business Practices will co-ordinate and project manage the initiatives that come through FRESHPPACT – focusing initially on the use of plastic in farming (agricultural mulch), packaging and workwear.

Chair of Centre, Professor Amin Hosseinian-Far, said: “Agriculture and the food industry must move away from the omnipresent use of plastic for the good of the planet. For example, thousands of tonnes of agricultural plastic often can’t be recycled as it becomes contaminated by soil ends up being burned or buried.

“For all of these problems, we are confident there are solutions – and assembling the partners and projects that will drive FRESHPPACT is a huge leap forward.”

FRESHPPACT is inviting any organisation – including but not limited to retailers, fresh produce companies, research organisations (including universities) and solutions providers – to register their interest in submitting possible projects.

For more information and to register interest.

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