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University of Hull professor to chair scoping group on plastic pollution research

The University of Hull’s Energy and Environment Institute Director, Professor Dan Parsons, has been selected to chair a scoping group for research into tacking the mounting global issue of plastic pollution in the environment.

Around 7,000 million tonnes of plastic waste has been generated since plastics were invented and mass produced in the 1930’s, with over 80% of this accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.

An estimated 15 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, with significant environmental cost. Plastics are being consumed by marine organisms that mistake the waste for food, with dire consequences.

Previous research led by Dr Cath Waller at Hull, along with colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey have shown how the levels of microplastic particles accumulating in the Southern Ocean, around Antarctica, are much worse than expected.

Professor Parsons will chair the group for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The group of selected individuals, will develop a science case for a potential large strategic research programme on tackling this plastic pollution in the environment.

“Despite these huge quantities, there is relatively little understanding of how plastics move through the environment and into the oceans. We don’t really understand how plastics are broken down and altered during transport nor the potential effects this pollution has on organisms and the marine food chain."

Professor Dan Parsons, Energy and Environment Institute Director

"With the world waking up to the potential impacts plastic pollution can have, we now need to turn that interest into concerted action, identify intervention points and help guide policy and law changes to tackle this global challenge.” 

“I’m excited to lead this scoping group, the end result of which we hope to be able to provide an understanding of the pathway and ultimate fate of these types of plastics in the environment.”

NERC is the UK's largest funder of independent environmental science, training and innovation, delivered through universities and research centres.

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