Waitrose & Partners Plan Plastic: The Million Pound Challenge

An image of an orange fish swimming in the ocean that is polluted by plastic
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Waitrose & Partners Plan Plastic: The Million Pound Challenge

Funding innovative projects that are tackling plastic pollution

Back in 2019, Waitrose & Partners wanted to use the money from the sale of 5p carrier bags to launch a £1m grant fund to cut plastic pollution in the UK and they asked Hubbub to manage the fund. Waitrose knew that their customers were very concerned by plastic pollution and, going beyond their own efforts to tackle plastic and packaging, they wanted to support other organisations to take action too.

From a pool of 150 applications, and supported by an independent grant panel, we were delighted to find 5 five exciting, varied projects. The projects vary from research, developing new technologies tocommunity engagement, public education and awareness, and simple infrastructure, creating instant impact. Read about these amazing projects below.

The fund has now come to an end, and we’re delighted to present the impact of the five projects and their ongoing legacy.

The difference made

About the fund: 

  • £1 million fund 
  • 150 applications
  • 5 winning projects
  • Media reach of over 52 million
  1. Blue Marine Foundation

    ...developed a cost-effective beacon for fishermen to stop fishing gear becoming plastic pollution in the marine environment, and sea trialled over 100 beacons with fishermen in the south west of England.

  2. Onion Collective and Biohm

    ...developed 4 strains of ‘plastic-digesting mycelium’ and built a community bio-recycling centre, creating 2 new jobs and 1 new environmental industry, supported by 11 community panel members.

  3. Women’s Environmental Network and City to Sea

    ...trained 47 ambassadors, ran 16 workshops, and trained 724 teachers and nurses to deliver workshops, with a combined reach of over 107,000 people.

  4. Plymouth Marine Laboratory

    ...demonstrated that 5kg mussels can filter out over 250,000 microplastics per hour, showing that mussels have the potential to provide a nature-based solution to microplastics in water.

  5. Youth Hostel Association

    ...installed 56 water fountains, avoiding 500,000 single-use plastic bottles per year.

The five projects

Blue Marine Foundation: Safegear

Blue Marine aimed to tackle of the problem of ‘ghost fishing gear’, which causes a huge amount of damage to marine life. They developed a beacon that makes reduces the likelihood of gear being lost, and makes it easier to track and recover gear if it is moved. As well as reducing the amount of ghost gear causing plastic pollution in the ocean, this could help fishermen save thousands on replacing lost gear each year. Find out more about Safegear.

Onion Collective and Biohm:  Community bio-recycling

Onion Collective wanted to create a new industry to provide jobs and regenerate their home town of Watchet, supported by the local community. They created a visionary partnership, with R&D social enterprise Biohm who are developing an incredible new technology that uses a fungi called Mycelium to ‘digest’ hard-to-recycle plastic and grow into an alternative to more harmful plastic products such as insulation. Find out more about Community bio-recycling.

Plymouth Marine Laboratory: Mussel Power

PML wanted to explore an ecological way of removing microplastics from polluted estuaries and coastal waters, by harnessing the natural filtering power of mussels: robust shellfish that are known to filter out waterborne microplastics whilst feeding. Find out more about Mussel power.

Women's Environmental Network and City to Sea: Environmenstrual

This joint project aimed to mainstream more sustainable period products by training ambassadors and educators to deliver workshops and break the taboo around reusable period products. Find out more about Environmenstrual.

Youth Hostel Association: Message in a bottle

This simple but high-impact project set out to install water refill stations at all YHA’s major youth hostels across England and Wales, removing over 500,000 single use plastic bottles from circulation annually, and enabling people to refill their bottles for free. Find out more about Message in a bottle.

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