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Plastics Collaboratory

A multidisciplinary, holistic approach to the plastics problem.

The
Challenge

Over the last 50 years, plastic has revolutionised the way we live and is now an essential part of our lives. But today, we generate a staggering amount of plastic waste, with an estimated 12 million tonnes* entering the oceans each year.

We're polluting all corners of our greatest resource, with little regard for the impact on marine life and the ocean ecosystem.

plastics-collaboratory-pullout
Unless we take radical action, there will be more plastic than fish in our waters by 2050.

Recycling is now no longer enough to reverse this cycle - we need a holistic approach tackling the materials and their degradability, and the human behavioural issues at the heart of the challenge. And that's where the University of Hull's unique Plastics Collaboratory comes in.

* Source: Greenpeace.org
Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation and World Economic Forum

The
Approach

Lead researchers

Dan Parsons Pauline Deutz Professor Carl Redshaw

Building on a strong track record in the area of plastics research, the University of Hull’s Plastics Collaboratory forms a diverse team of more than 45 academics combining a broad range of expertise including politics, law, chemistry, physics, logistics, social sciences, linguistics, health, education, environmental sciences, psychology, marketing and engineering.

The Plastics Collaboratory, led by the Energy and Environment Institute, aims to understand the pathways and interactions of plastics in the environment, identify the gaps and leaks in a plastics circular economy, and explore and develop new pathways to an enhanced circularity in plastics use. The aim is to facilitate the co-design and execution of specific innovations based on insights from an interdisciplinary range of academics, stakeholders and consumers from every level of the plastic value chain.

The Collaboratory brings together colleagues and PhD students working in plastic related research programmes and projects from across the University facilitating the exchange of information, expertise and skills across the full range of disciplines to help drive the strategic direction of future plastic related research and programmes of activity across the University and beyond. 

Plastics Collaboratory Members

Professor Dan Parsons

Dan Parsons is Director of the Energy & Environment Institute at the University of Hull. He brings expertise in understanding the wider impact of plastics, particularly in coastal and marine environments and the interaction between environmental and climate change. 

Dr. Pauline Deutz

Pauline’s research interests are focused on the political and economic aspects of environmental issues, and how they interrelate with the functioning and organisation of the capitalist economy.

Professor Carl Redshaw

Carl has 20 years’ experience of polymerisation catalysis including work on new catalysts for biodegradable polymer production.  

Other members

Dr Alex Ibhadon (Chemical Engineering), Alistair Hull (Faculty of Science and Engineering), Professor Amar Ramudhin (Logistics Institute), Dr Anne Kildunne (Geography & Environment), Professor Carl Redshaw (Chemistry), Dr Cath Waller (Marine Science), Dr Charlotte Dean (Education Studies), Clare Collins (Energy and Environment Institute), Professor Dan Parsons (Energy and Environment Institute), Dr Dmitriy Kuvshinov (Chemical Engineering), Dr Elsbeth Robson (Faculty of Science and Engineering), Felicitas Ten Brink (Energy and Environment Institute), Florence Halstead (Energy and Environment Institute), Freija Mendrik (Energy and Environment Institute), Irene Sotiropoulou (Energy and Environment Institute), Jack Buckingham (Energy and Environment Institute), Jana Busch (Faculty of Science and Engineering), Professor Jeanette Rotchell (Biological and Marine Sciences), Dr Jenny Spear (Energy and Environment Institute), Jessica Hurley (Energy and Environment Institute), Dr Jorg D Hardege (Marine Science), Julian Blumenroeder (Energy and Environment Institute), Dr Karen Rodgers (Energy and Environment Institute), Kate Warnock-Smith (Energy and Environment Institute), Dr Katharina Wollenberg Valero (Biological Science), Katie Parsons (Faculty of Science and Engineering), Professor Kevin Burden (Education Studies), Dr Laura Sadofsky (Hull York Medical School), Lucrecia Alvarez Barrantes (Energy and Environment Institute), Dr M.G Francesconi (Chemistry), Dr Martin Buzza (Physics), Professor Mike Elliot (Marine Science), Professor Nishikant Mishra (Business School), Dr Orlando Santoro (Chemistry), Osman Yansaneh (Chemical Engineering), Dr Pauline Deutz (Geography & Environment), Dr Raghava R Vanga (Chemical Engineering), Dr Rick McCumskay (Energy and Environment Institute), Dr Rob Dorrell (Energy and Environment Institute), Dr Roland Yawo Getor (Logistics Institute), Professor Rudi Wurzel (Politics), Dr Sharif Zein (Chemical Engineering), Dr Stuart McLelland (Energy and Environment Institute), Van Luyen (Faculty of Science and Engineering), Dr Vicky Skoulou (Chemical Engineering), Victoria Scott (Energy and Environment Institute), Dr Xuebin Ke (Chemical Engineering).

The Impact

The Plastics Collaboratory’s holistic approach will create a broad range of impacts on disparate areas of the plastics problem:

  • We will identify potential barriers to a circular economy by understanding the wider issues around the production, use, disposal and/or reuse of plastic.
  • We will develop new biodegradable polymeric materials - creating new materials and using cross-linking agents as catalysts.
  • We will investigate the altered impact on the environment of a new plastics circular economy, providing an evidential base for the current impact of plastics and the benefits of moving towards a circular economy.
  • We will identify pathways for new practices - finding policies and frameworks to clear the way for a new circular economy.
  • We will create an environment that will facilitate the transformation from linear to circular economy and begin the process of raising support in the wider public for a circular economy.
  • We will facilitate the exchange of information, expertise and skills across the full range of disciplines to help drive the strategic direction of future plastic related research and programmes of activity across the University and beyond.

Ongoing Projects & Activities