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On-going projects

Plastics Collaboratory

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

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 25 academics combining a broad range of expertise from politics to chemistry, logistics to social linguistics, environmental sciences to psychology and marketing to engineering.

The Plastics Collaboratory 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.

 

Lead academics

Professor Carl Redshaw

Carl has 20 years’ experience of polymerisation catalysis including work on new catalysts for biodegradable polymer production. He will co-lead with Dr Pauline Deutz.

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 Dan Parsons

Dan Parsons brings expertise in understanding the wider impact of plastics, particularly in coastal and marine environments and the interaction between environmental and climate change.

 

Other academics

Professor Amar Ramudhin (Logistics and Supply Chain Management); Dr Chandra Kambhampati (Computer Science); Dr Graham Ferrier (Geography and Geology); Dr Cath Waller (Biological Science, Geography and Geology); Professor Chanaka Jayawardhena (Marketing); Dr Chunfei Wu (Chemical Engineering); Dr Felix Yong Peng Why (Psychology); Professor Gerald Midgley (Business and Management); Professor Jeanette Rotchell (Biological and Environmental Science); Professor Jonathan Atkins (Economics and Business Economics); Dr Julia Affolderbach (Geography and Geology); Dr Kevin Burden (Education, Teaching and Childhood Studies); Dr Michael Farrelly (Modern Languages and Cultures); Professor Nishikant Mishra (Logistics and Supply Chain Management); Professor Mark Lorch (Chemistry); Professor Richard Barnes (Law); Professor Rudiger Wurzel (Politics and International Studies); Dr Sharif Zein (Chemical Engineering); Dr Vicky Skoulou (Chemical Engineering); Dr Victoria-Sophie Osburg (Marketing); Dr Will Mayes (Biological and Environmental Science, Geography and Geology); Dr Xuebin Ke (Chemical Engineering); Dr Yongqiang Cheng (Computer Science).

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.

Other on-going research projects