Plastic bottle in the ocean

Plastics in the Environment Research Group

We are a group of interdisciplinary researchers that focus on the environmental and social impact of plastics;

Plastics, Microplastics, Bio-based plastics, Marine, Freshwater and terrestrial plastic pollution, Plastics governance, Social impact, Human rights, Ecological impact, Antarctic /polar, Toxicology.

Catherine Waller
Faculty of Science and Engineering & Faculty of Business, Law and Politics
Dr Catherine Waller
Lecturer

The Challenge

The Plastics in the Environment Research Group was created with the aim of bringing together all the University of Hull researchers considering plastics in the environment, in order to share our research, discuss interesting developments in our fields, broaden our knowledge and cultivate interdisciplinary insights. Our research currently ranges from the transport-deposition of microplastic particles in sediments, rivers and estuaries, through the breakdown of both plastics and bioplastics in different environments (from tropical to Antarctic), to the effects of microplastics ingestion on marine species, and how human rights are affected by plastics pollution.

The Approach

Click our projects below to find out how we are tackling this topic…

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OUR AIMS

  • Promote collaboration through exchanging knowledge and research outcomes
  • Create a plastic research network
  • Understand the whole picture of plastic pollution in an effort to steer research focus
  • Raise public awareness of plastic and its impact
  • Save the world!

Projects

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The ecological fate of microplastics in nearshore marine environments of South Georgia: a source to sink approach

Assessing the presence/abundance of microplastics in nearshore marine environments of South Georgia. To what degree have microplastics permeated local food webs? What is the most influential source of microplastic found in this region?

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Stressing the Stressed

Investigation of molecular responses and fitness outcomes of vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms as a result of combined environmental stress experienced at end of century climate change prediction levels with the addition of stress experienced through micro-plastic exposure.

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Analysing microplastics in Antarctic fishes from South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area in the Southern Ocean.

Fishes are ingesting microplastics in areas of high human activity. However, data from remote locations is limited. This is vital for defining the scale of the problem. This project will additionally establish baseline measurements for monitoring a Marine Protected Area.

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On the biological mediation of microplastic transport and fate in a mega-delta and marine environment

This project includes investigating the effects of biofilm growth and flocculation on microplastic fate, an ecological risk map of microplastics in the Mekong River and determining whether coral reefs are a sink for microplastic pollution in the South China Sea.

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The Environmental Impact of Bio-Based Plastics

For my project I am testing the environmental impact of bio-based plastics to determine whether they are more environmentally friendly than conventional plastics. I am using experiments in the lab and the field as well as life cycle analysis.

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Children's Environmental Human Rights and Marine Plastic Pollution

The current global regime regulating Marine Plastic Pollution does not work. This project investigates whether a Children’s Environmental Human Rights approach can help provide solutions? And could children use “Plastics Litigation” to exercise their rights? What might be the results?

View all projects

The ecological fate of microplastics in nearshore marine environments of South Georgia: a source to sink approach
Assessing the presence/abundance of microplastics in nearshore marine environments of South Georgia. To what degree have microplastics permeated local food webs? What is the most influential source of microplastic found in this region?
Jack Buckingham

 

Marine Plastic Weathering - How long does it take?
In an effort to tackle the growing amount of plastic in the world oceans, this project looks at the degridation of plastic. Simulated Ultraviolet radiation and saltwater experiments replicate environmental exposures to assess and predict the fate of plastics pollution.
Rick McCumskay

 

The Environmental Impact of Bio-Based Plastics
For my project I am testing the environmental impact of bio-based plastics to determine whether they are more environmentally friendly than conventional plastics. I am using experiments in the lab and the field as well as life cycle analysis.
Karen Rodgers

 

Microplastics in the ocean: vertical transfer through intertidal food webs
Microplastics are ingested by many marine organisms, but the implications of this are not yet known. This project focuses on assessing MP ingestion by marine invertebrates from different feeding groups with the goal to model trophic interactions.
Felicitas ten Brink

 

On the biological mediation of microplastic transport and fate in a mega-delta and marine environment
This project includes investigating the effects of biofilm growth and flocculation on microplastic fate, an ecological risk map of microplastics in the Mekong River and determining whether coral reefs are a sink for microplastic pollution in the South China Sea.
Freija Mendrik

 

Stressing the Stressed
Investigation of molecular responses and fitness outcomes of vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms as a result of combined environmental stress experienced at end of century climate change prediction levels with the addition of stress experienced through micro-plastic exposure.
Victoria Scott

 

Microplastics in Polar Marine Food Webs
My PhD project focuses on the environmental consequences of microplastics in the polar marine food webs. My aim is to investigate which traits influence microplastic ingestion (such as feeding type, taxa and trophic level) and if it accumulates along the food chain.
Julian Blumenroeder

 

Children's Environmental Human Rights and Marine Plastic Pollution
The current global regime regulating Marine Plastic Pollution does not work. This project investigates whether a Children’s Environmental Human Rights approach can help provide solutions? And could children use “Plastics Litigation” to exercise their rights? What might be the results?
Kate Warnock-Smith

 

Quantifying and Modelling Global River Fluxes of Microplastics
This project aims to quantify the transport and deposition of microplastic fluxes in rivers. The research is composed of laboratory experiments and numerical models. The laboratory experiments study the settlement process of microplastic-sediments deposits and the numerical model represent the spatial distribution patterns of the microplastic particles.
Lucrecia Alvarez

 

Analysing microplastics in Antarctic fishes from South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area in the Southern Ocean
Fishes are ingesting microplastics in areas of high human activity. However, data from remote locations is limited. This is vital for defining the scale of the problem. This project will additionally establish baseline measurements for monitoring a Marine Protected Area.
Clare Collins

 

The suspension, and sedimentation, of variable buoyancy microplastic particles
I am investigating the transportation of microplastic particles in different flow conditions. Applied to large scale models, my research into particle suspension, and sedimentation, will enable prediction of the transport, fate and impact of microplastic pollution in real-world environments.
Connor Whelan

 

The Physiological Effects of Microplastics Ingestion
Identification of the effects of microplastics ingestion on marine benthic invertebrates from a temperate and polar ecosystem. Specifically, investigation of the effects on energy budgets, reproduction and behaviour of Polychaetes and Bivalves.
Jessica Hurley

Members

Outputs and publications

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111364

ISSN: 0887-6703 Tang, P.L., McCumskay, R., Rogerson, M., Waller, C., et al. (2019) Handheld FT-IR Spectroscopy for the Triage of Micro- and Meso-Sized Plastics in the Marine Environment Incorporating an Accelerated Weathering Study and an Aging Estimation. Spectroscopy. 34 (2), 54–60.

Species-specific impact of microplastics on coral physiology, Environmental Pollution, accepted 4th December 2020

10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.07.009

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