Ray with a bottle in the ocean

Plastics Collaboratory

Challenge

Unless we take radical action, there will be more plastic than fish in our waters by 2050*.

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.

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

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.

Aims

We're looking to focus our investigations through five inter-linking work packages drawing on expertise from different disciplines.

 

  • Understanding the use of plastic - working with everyone from producers to end-users to understand how plastics are used and potential barriers to a circular economy
  • Developing new biodegradable polymeric materials - creating new materials and using cross-linking agents as catalysts
  • Impact and recovery of plastics - investigating the altered impact on the environment with a new plastics circular economy
  • Identifying pathways for new practices - finding policies and frameworks to clear the way for a new circular economy
  • Transformation from linear to circular economy - beginning the process of raising support in the wider public for a circular economy

Research & Expertise

Our Team

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Prof Carl Redshaw

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

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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.

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