Soil loss: an unfolding global disaster

Our experts give evidence on soil and plastic to Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Grantham Centre experts have given evidence to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). Topics covered include soil health and plastic food packaging.

POST is parliament’s in-house source of analysis of public-policy issues. Their focus is public-policy issues related to science and technology, but they publish summaries on a wide range of subjects. These summaries of public policy issues are called POSTnotes.

POSTnotes: giving parliament expert advice

Deborah Beck outside the Grantham Centre
Deborah Beck, Grantham Centre Manager, who coordinated the POSTnotes

Because parliamentarians need knowledge of key issues that are about to be in the public sphere, POSTnotes are produced proactively. POST decides on important topics and then puts out calls for information. Deborah Beck, our Centre Manager, responded to these calls and then coordinated the relevant Grantham Centre experts to meet with POST.

As a result, Grantham Centre experts provided evidence to 3 recent POSTnotes. Importantly, research from a Grantham Centre supervisor was also included in a finished report (see below). This builds on work from 2017 when a Post Fellow visited the Grantham Centre for his work on sustainable agriculture.

Sustaining the Soil Microbiome

Did you know that ‘soil microbiome’ are communities of microorganisms in soils? Further, the soil microbiome underpins natural processes in soil habitats. As a result it is vital for the health of soils. However, environmental and land use changes affect these vital microorganisms.

Sustaining the Soil Microbiome POSTnote gives an overview of the benefits provided by the soil microbiome. It also looks at ways of assessing it and how to improve its condition.

Deborah Beck and Grantham Scholar David Rapley coordinated Grantham Centre experts’ response to this POSTnote. Included were Duncan Cameron, Jurriaan Ton, Jonathan Leake and Stephen Rolfe. All of them are Grantham supervisors, and Duncan is on our Management Board.

Also, the report’s author Cagla Stevenson visited the Grantham Centre. While here, she held a workshop with Grantham Scholars about her experience working for POST.

Anna Krzywoszynska’s soil research gets a special mention

Anna K whose work on soil health was referenced in the POSTnote
Dr Anna Krzywoszynska‘s research was referenced in the Soil Microbiome POSTnote.

Perhaps best of all, Anna Krzywoszynska’s research was directly referenced in this POSTnote. We are especially proud of this because Anna has received Grantham Centre funding to help her create the Soil Care Network.

Soil research at the Grantham Centre

We have a number of experts working on soil research. From across science and the social sciences, they research this incredible substance without which life as we know it would be impossible. Read: Soil research at the Grantham Centre.

Compostable Food Packaging

Compostable food packaging could potentially reduce waste from plastic food packaging. But obstacles exist to its widespread use. For example, the lack of a systematic collection system and composting infrastructure. Or the enforcement of standards and complications with recycling.

This paper describes policy options to enable greater use of compostable packaging.

Members of our Plastics: Redefining Single-Use project were part of this consultation. Included were Thomas Webb and Rukayya Muazu. And our packaging consultant Sarah Greenwood from the same team also gave evidence. If you want to know more, you can read the full POSTnote here.

used plastic bottles
The Grantham Centre has a special project Plastics: Redefining Single-Use and our experts from that team provided information to two POSTnotes

Plastic Food Packaging Waste

The food sector uses a lot of plastic packaging. However, plastic waste is a growing consumer concern.

So this POSTnote outlines the main options for reducing packaging waste. These include removing, reusing, replacing and recycling plastics. Then the paper examines the potential to combine them into a coordinated waste strategy.

As with Compostable Food Packaging, members of our Plastics: Redefining Single-Use team provided information to this POSTnote.

Our research

You can find out all about research at the Grantham Centre here.

Want to know more about our current plastics project Many Happy Returns (for plastic packaging)?

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