Five projects have won a share of £1 million awarded through the Plan Plastic Challenge. Each of the winners is taking a pioneering approach to tackling plastic pollution. The fund was created by Waitrose & Partners generated from the sale of 5p carrier bags prior to their recent removal from shops. The fund was managed by Hubbub UK and attracted over 150 applicants. The winners will receive grants of between £150,000 and £300,000. 

Hubbub was delighted by the breadth of entries making initial short-listing challenging. The selection of the winners from the highest scoring entries was overseen by an independent panel consisting of a social entrepreneur, an academic, an experienced grant funder and a senior representative from Waitrose & Partners.

The winning entries are a diverse group from marine scientists to pioneering charities. All demonstrated innovation in tackling plastic pollution with projects that have the potential to deliver significant long-term impact. The winners are:

Blue Marine Foundation: SAFEGEAR (Plymouth, Devon & UK wide)

Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) has developed a pioneering initiative called SAFEGEAR that aims to stop ghost fishing gear (fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean) at source by attaching beacons to buoys to make fishing gear visible. SAFEGEAR allows fishing vessels to inexpensively monitor their gear at sea, receive alerts if their gear starts to move, and contact vessels in the proximity. If gear is lost due to towing, or bad weather, the beacon allows the fishing vessel to track the gear and recover it.   

Onion Collective CIC and Biohm: Community Bio-Recycling (Watchet, Somerset)

Onion Collective and Biohm are working together to create a new plastic biorecycling facility in Somerset, that will use mycelium (a vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacteria) to break down synthetic plastic waste and turn it into new products - for environmental, social and economic benefit. This process will entirely eliminate petrochemical plastic while demonstrating a new way of doing business.


Women's Environmental Network (WEN): Environmenstrual Plastic Free Periods (UK wide)

The environmenstrual campaign ‘Plastic-Free Periods’ aims to bring about a UK revolution in education about health-conscious, environmentally-friendly menstrual products. This is a collaborative project between Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) and City to Sea aiming to bring about widespread behaviour change that reduces plastic pollution from period products.

Youth Hostel Association (YHA): Message in a Bottle (UK wide)

YHA is a leading charity focused on improving young people’s health, wellbeing and life chances. Its simple but high impact project will see water bottle refill stations installed in 60 major youth hostels across England and Wales, eradicating the use of single use plastic bottles from packed lunches, cafes, bars and vending machines.


Plymouth Marine Laboratory: Mussel Power (Plymouth, Devon)

‘Removing Marine Microplastics with Mussel Power’ aims to develop an ecological solution to microplastic pollution whereby beds or rafts of mussels are deployed in estuaries and coastal sites to filter out microplastics from the water. The project will help determine whether these ‘bioreefs’ will work in the fight against plastic waste.

Hubbub will be working with the projects providing guidance and support helping them to deliver their ambitions. We also plan to share their development journey sharing stories of successes and set-backs so that others can learn and impact can be maximised.

Want to find out more about these innovative projects? Head to the Plan Plastic Fund website for more.