Next in our series looking at Materials and Sustainability, we take a look at a KTP between Heriot-Watt University & Aquapak Polymers Ltd

The project is looking to investigate the environmental implications of Aquapak’s innovative plastic polymers that have the potential to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment. 

About Aquapak Polymers Ltd

Aquapak Polymers is the developer and manufacturer of innovative environmental plastic materials based in the West Midlands.

Hydropol™ – one of their solutions – allows packaging designers to replace packaging containing generally unrecyclable traditional plastics to be replaced with a highly functional polymer allowing multiple end-of-life options specifically designed for the circular economy but one that biodegrades safely and harmlessly in the environment. 

It can be used on its own or, more importantly, combined with other materials including paper and other biopolymers and is suitable as a film, laminate, coating, or in rigid form.

The KTP 

Aquapak Polymers has partnered with researchers in Heriot-Watt University’s Consortium for Plastics and Sustainability (COMPASS) to investigate the behaviour, ecotoxicology, and decomposition of these polymers – Hydropol. 

Joining the project as a KTP Associate was Dr. Joel Kuhn, Student from Heriot-Watt University. Joel’s PhD in Chemical Engineering brought expertise from a multidisciplinary perspective, with backgrounds in material science, surface chemistry and data analysis to biology, biomedicine and environmental toxicology.

Prof Ted Henry HWU, KTP project lead explains: 

“The Hydropol polymer has unique properties with the potential to contribute to the future direction of plastics within the circular economy and reduction of environmental impacts.  Results of our investigations of dissolved Hydropol are consistent with previous reports that this material is innocuous to aquatic life for the variety of organisms that have been tested.  

Further investigation into the decomposition of the polymers within the environment by abiotic and biotic factors is ongoing to establish rates and processes.  These analyses will enhance understanding of how the attractive properties and unique opportunities of Hydropol could be part of the solution to achieve circular economies for plastics”

Comment from Dr John Williams, Company Supervisor: 

“The investigations of HWU into the behaviour, ecotoxicology and decomposition of these polymers have provided not only vital data for Aquapak but also a new way of approaching these issues, which we believe will have impacts well beyond this initial study. We are looking forward to building on this important work over the coming years.

Status of the project 

The project duration was two years with a kick-off date in August 2019. In March 2022, the project was successfully finalised with continued engagement between Heriot-Watt University & Aquapak Polymers.

About KTPs

KTPs are funded by UKRI through Innovate UK with the support of co-funders, including the Scottish Funding Council, Welsh Government, Invest Northern Ireland, Defra and BEIS. Innovate UK manages the KTP programme and facilitates its delivery through a range of partners including Innovate KTN, Knowledge Bases and Businesses. Each partner plays a specific role in the support and delivery of the programme.

If you have an innovative business idea and would like to see if a KTP could help take it forward,  get in touch.

more Insights


Embedding advanced artificial intelligence (AI) capability to develop digital coaching with a KTP Project

05 April, 2023

With KTP project funding KultraLab® will take on an experienced PhD level Associate from the Univer...

Read More

Business advancement with AI made possible through KTP

24 March, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies are transforming the way we live and work and driving real...

Read More
Women in KTP

Stories from Women in KTP: the Power of Collaboration

07 March, 2023

From footwear to cell culture, kit homes to biotech, we hear from women leading innovation-focussed ...

Read More
Women in KTP

Stories from Women in KTP: celebrating International Women's Day

28 February, 2023

The power of collaboration: in the first of our mini series, we hear from leading business women abo...

Read More

Collaboration drives innovation - discover more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

27 February, 2023

Innovation is the beating heart of progressive, successful companies; so making it happen is key. &...

Read More
KTP Awards 2022

And the Winners are…

14 October, 2022

Thank you to all who joined us both online and in Liverpool for a dazzling ceremony at St. George’...

Read More