Chemicals specialist 2M Group and tech firm Xampla have secured funding to scale up packaging technology they say could save millions of tonnes of waste from being incinerated or dumped in landfill.

2M, from Runcorn, and Xampla, from Cambridge, have been awarded an Innovate UK Smart Grant to ramp up manufacturing of biodegradable Morro packaging materials.

Morro has been designed to replace petroleum-based coatings used on single-use food packaging items. The plant-based coating is biodegradable and home compostable, and safe for food contact.

Xampla and 2M say that “by 2031, Morro materials could replace up to 10,000 tonnes of single-use plastic coatings and one million kilometres of plastic coated paperboard”.

The grant will support the companies in growing manufacturing in Milton Keynes, where 2M’s production arm is based. They say: “This new funding will not only accelerate the commercialisation of Morro materials but increase the UK’s self-sufficiency in biomanufacturing supply chain - creating jobs, driving regulatory change, and meeting the public demand for plastic-free solutions.”

The 2M Group was founded in 2004 and has a portfolio of chemicals and distribution businesses with operations in Benelux, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Scandinavia and South Africa. Companies include Runcorn;s Banner Chemicals, founded by white spirit inventor Samuel Banner in 1860.

Mottie Kessler OBE, chair and CEO of the 2M Group, said “Being awarded the Innovate Smart grant is a fantastic recognition and demonstrates the importance of how industry and new technology can help build a better world for tomorrow.

“We see huge potential with Xampla’s technology and the Morro brand and are excited at the opportunity it presents to support the transformation of our portfolio to more sustainable technologies and to add further value to our customers.”

Alexandra French, CEO of Xampla, said “We are proud to be awarded this grant from Innovate UK, in collaboration with 2M Group of Companies, to accelerate Morro materials’ next phase of commercialisation and position ourselves as world leaders in sustainable packaging.

“Our partnership will support Morro Coating’s route to market by unlocking critical in-kind support from key customers and enabling access to 2M Group of Companies’ world-leading expertise in manufacturing and distribution.”

Xampla has already received funding from UK Research & Innovation and Innovate UK through the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge.

Challenge director Paul Davidson said “It is incredibly exciting to see Xampla’s innovative material moving into the commercialisation stage and the new partnership with 2M Group of Companies to scale up production. The SSPP Challenge aims to change our relationship with plastic packaging and Xampla and its Morro brand, working with 2M Group of Companies, have the potential to do just that.”