Sustainable packaging in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester firms are in prime position to help the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) make all plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

World class research in advanced materials, sustainable consumption and robotics make Greater Manchester the place to design and commercialise the packaging of the future.

Here, you’ll find an innovation-driven food, drink, and packaging cluster where companies have access to market-leading sustainable packaging technology and innovation, capabilities and skills.



Greater Manchester

Investment type:

Foreign direct investment


Green finance and innovation, Food and drink

Take advantage of this opportunity to expand and grow your business in the UK

Find out more

Sector and market opportunity

There’s a growing and urgent need from businesses and consumers for sustainable packaging that’s made from environmentally friendly new materials. This means products that can be reused, recycled, and disposed of sustainably.

You can meet this demand and develop vital solutions in Greater Manchester, by:

  • collaborating with a strong and vibrant food and drink cluster of more than 700 companies
  • accessing capabilities in sustainable packaging
  • working with an academic base that excels in advanced materials science, manufacturing digitisation and packaging automation research

Further opportunities exist to design and commercialise technologies that will support the development of sustainable, smart and digital packaging solutions.

Growth prospects

Recent government and industry commitments present a clear pipeline of opportunities in Greater Manchester. Here, companies can capitalise early on ideas that will shape the future, worth a projected £309 billion globally by 2024.


In the heart of the UK’s food and drink corridor, Greater Manchester is perfect for investing in sustainable packaging.

Companies have access to a food and drink manufacturing and related services cluster of more than 700 companies and a packaging cluster of more than 200 companies.

Key businesses in the area include Kraft Heinz, McVities, Heineken and Kellogg’s.

The region is also driving innovation with key centres of excellence, including the University of Manchester’s Department of Materials, one of the largest in Europe.


Rail services to Manchester run along one of the primary lines in the UK, connecting London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow.

The fastest trains from London to Manchester take just over 2 hours to reach Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester’s central station.

Manchester Airport offers access to more than 200 international destinations.

Manchester Ship Canal, Port Salford and the Port of Liverpool connect companies to the global supply chain.

Local talent and skills

More than 200 local companies offer expertise in packaging machinery and services, and 11,500 highly skilled workers are employed in the packaging industry.

The region’s 4 leading universities create 3,160 industry-ready graduates a year, specialising in chemistry, materials, science and engineering.

Research and expertise

Companies can collaborate with world-leading capabilities at Europe’s largest centre for advanced materials research, and access cutting-edge innovation in composites, polymers, and graphene.

Key assets include the:

  • Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials
  • International Centre for Advanced Materials
  • Institute for Materials Research and Innovation
  • National Composites Certification and Evaluation Facility
  • National Graphene Institute

Region Spotlight
North of England


The North of England is recognised as a global centre for creativity and design and attracts thriving international investment. This heritage of expertise and manufacturing know-how is well established on the world stage, and historically gave birth to the Industrial Revolution.

View all investment opportunities in North of England

Enabling clean growth

The UK government’s resources and waste strategy sets out how the country aims to become the world leader in using resources efficiently. It’s driven by a focus on innovation and new incentives and policies that will open up the market for sustainable packaging.

Directly linked to this is the WRAP UK Plastics Pact, which aims by 2025 to end unnecessary single-use packaging (replacing redesign, innovation or alternative delivery), with 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

Manchester is also supporting local demand for sustainable packaging, with its accelerated target to be carbon neutral by 2038 and reduce waste. It’s helping firms be innovative, and develop products and services to tackle this challenge.

The Mayor’s PlasticFREEGM campaign is tackling single-use plastics by increasing sustainable, reusable, compostable and recyclable choices in the region.

Local and national government support

Local councils can provide recruitment and training, financing and potentially reduced business rates for investors.

HELLO Manchester provides cheaper space, flexible leases and introductory offers from legal and accounting firms.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority Core Business Fund offers loans and equity. These are between £500,000 and £5 million for businesses creating jobs in the region.

Success stories


Bobst Manchester, part of Swiss multinational Bobst Group, is a leading supplier of vacuum-roll coating and metallising equipment for the food packaging market.

Using the Manchester Metropolitan University’s expertise in surface characterisation techniques, Bobst developed a new, sellable transparent packaging product.

Saica Group

Spanish company Saica are major European recycler, with its UK headquarters in Manchester. Its investment makes it the third largest company in the UK to recycle paper into corrugated board.

At the Saica Flex innovation centre in Wigan, customers work with Saica to design packaging solutions using a circular manufacturing process.


Skelmersdale-based TRAKRAP’s cold wrapping technology is revolutionising the packaging of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).

This sustainable packaging solution reduces energy consumption by around 90%, and plastic film use by up to 70%. The potential market is huge, with about 4,200 suitable production lines in the UK alone.

Other opportunities