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An evaluation of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge

  • Posted By GC Insight

The government’s Smart Sustainable Plastics Packaging Challenge was created to drive research and innovation to develop more sustainable plastic packaging materials and reduce the negative environmental impacts caused by traditional plastic packaging.

As we well know, plastic threatens wildlife, spreads toxins and causes significant harm to marine life that can result in injury, suffocation and death of marine animals. It also contributes to global warming. Because nearly all plastics are made from chemicals that come from the production of planet-warming fuels such as gas, oil and even coal, it prolongs our demand for those dirty fuels. And, when we burn plastics in incinerators, toxic pollution is released in the air.  
“There is no away – because plastic is so permanent and so indestructible. When you cast it into the ocean – it doesn’t go away.”
– Sir David Attenborough  
A large and ambitious programme, the government invested £60 million in plastics research and innovation through the Challenge on 80 projects over six years– with the aim to reduce single-use packaging, increase the uptake of reuse and refill systems, and support new and improved recycling technologies.   
UK Research and Innovation commissioned Winning Moves to complete the second phase of an independent evaluation of the SSPP Challenge, which included two main elements:

➡ A process evaluation to assess the effectiveness of key processes to design and deliver the SSPP Challenge 
➡An interim evaluation to assess the Challenge’s ‘direction of travel’ towards delivering the expected benefits and reviewing and adjusting the approach in preparation for the final impact evaluation.  
Using a mixed-method and multi-faceted research approach, Winning Moves engaged with more than 100 individuals directly involved in the delivery of the SSPP Challenge, and a number of wider stakeholder organisations.

Our interim progress evaluation provided UKRI with evidence that the Challenge is on target to realise its intended impacts and that several projects are likely to deliver impact within the lifetime of the programme. The report also made recommendations to support delivery of the Phase III evaluation, including the use of theory-based evaluation principles and Contribution Analysis to assess impact. 

The process evaluation report will be used to make improvements to the management and delivery of SSPP through to 2025 and to inform the design and implementation of similar activities in the future. 

The Phase 2 process evaluation report has been published and can be found here, and the impact progress report can be found here.

To learn more about Winning Moves research and evaluation expertise, visit the website here

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