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Scott Bush (Plastech Innovation)

Scott Bush, Natasha Boulding and Phil Buckley won April's Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award for their business, Plastech Innovation.
A lorry load of plastic enters our oceans every minute. If nothing changes, this is set to increase to four lorry loads by 2050, at which point there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans1.  Furthermore, a staggering 78% of the 400 million tonnes of plastic produced annually is not recycled, with most of it instead ending up in landfill, sent for incineration, or discarded into our natural environment2
 
Plastic waste is a problem of global magnitude, causing lasting environmental damage, threatening biodiversity and human health. Launched in 2018 by Durham University Chemistry PhD students, Scott Bush, Natasha Boulding and Phil Buckley, Plastech Innovation is developing a novel solution to reduce the volume of plastic waste entering our natural environment by reprocessing undesirable mixed and low grade plastic waste supplied by waste management companies, plastic manufacturers and local authorities into eco-friendly and lightweight aggregate for use in construction materials, such as concrete.
 
The start-up is already working with several key stakeholders including, waste management companies such as Biffa, local authorities such as Durham County Council and concrete company, Bespoke Concrete Products Limited, in order to provide alternative eco-friendly disposal routes for undesirable mixed and low-grade plastic waste.
 
Natasha, Phil and Scott originally developed the idea during an annual University business sprint, which challenges students to come up with viable business solutions to different social and environmental problems over two weeks. The success and feedback received following the sprint led to the team forming a partnership in September 2018.
 
Plastech Innovation’s most recent landmark achievement has been winning a Smarter Future Award. Prior to this, the trio entered and won the Society of Chemical Industry’s BrightSCIdea Challenge in March 2019. The cash prizes from both competitions have enabled the team to invest more time into the business. The £5,000 from the Smarter Future Award will go towards upscaling their equipment and propelling Plastech Innovation towards commercialisation.
 
“Competition wins are huge for us,” said Phil, “But what makes the Shell LiveWIRE win so significant is the fact that our target audience and the wider ecosystem were the ones assessing our idea. It’s good to get the feedback as well as the interest and confidence in your idea from the wider industry itself. It consolidates your business plan.”
 
When asked for their advice for other innovators with great business ideas, they said, “Don’t be overprotective of your idea. Of course, hold on to the core IP because that’s where the value lies, but try and get the concept out to as many industry experts as possible. You never know who will turn out to be a potential customer in the future, or who can help you along your start-up journey. This can open up a lot of opportunities in the future.”
 
You can find and follow Plastech Innovation on Twitter @PlastechUK.

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