The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an investment of up to $14.5 million in funding for research and development to cut waste and reduce the energy used by single-use plastics like plastic bags, wraps, and films. This funding directed toward plastics recycling technologies advances the DOE's work to address the challenges of plastic waste recycling and support the Biden Administration's efforts to build a clean energy economy and ensure the U.S. reaches net-zero emissions by 2050.

This funding opportunity announcement solicits applications that incentivize plastic film recycling and upcycling by developing novel approaches for upcycling of existing films and redesign multi-layer films to be inherently recyclable or biodegradable.

Topic areas are:

1) Novel Approaches to Recycle and Upcycle Films: Applications are sought to develop novel degradation, upcycling and/or recycling pathways for post-consumer films.

2) Redesign of Multi-layer Films for Infinite Recyclability or Biodegradability: Multi-layered films are often used to achieve a multitude of properties that are difficult to achieve with a single component. This topic seeks new materials that are infinitely recyclable or biodegradable and meet all the required properties to replace multi-layered films.

As part of the application, applicants are required to describe how diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives will be incorporated in the project.

This funding opportunity builds on DOE investments, including the DOE Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment (BOTTLE) Consortium and the Reducing EMbodied energy And Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute. BOTTLE consortium members have previously engineered an enzyme to better deconstruct polyethylene terephthalate, one of the most commonly used plastic packaging materials, developed a new approach to deconstruct single use polyethylene for use in new products, and developed a brand new plastic that can be easily recycled. 

The application process will include two phases: a concept paper and a full application. Concept papers are due on June 28, 2021, and full applications are due on August 16, 2021.

For more information, visit the BETO Funding Opportunity page and access the full FOA on the EERE Funding Opportunity Exchange.