How do we redefine single-use plastic? Plastics: Redefining Single-Use is a multidisciplinary research project announced by the UK Science Minister. With £1 million from UKRI we have created a team of world-class experts. Together with the Grantham Centre they will redefine single-use plastic.
Single-use plastic is a waste of limited natural resources. But currently health-care, industry and agriculture all rely on it. Redefining single-use plastic is a tough problem that needs to be tackled from many angles. So we will think across disciplines and explore novel solutions. And we will create a strong basis on which to synthesise evidence and formulate policy advice with regards to a new vision: a zero-waste, circular economy for plastics.
You can read about our team, keep up to date with news and track our progress below. And you can watch this short video to find out more ↓
We're delighted that our work on reducing plastic waste can continue now that UKRI have given us £1 million for Many Happy Returns. This money will fund research into enabling reusable packaging systems. Many Happy Returns brings together many of the team members from Plastics: Redefining Single-Use to create a multidisciplinary group. Find out more here.
Have you heard of life cycle analysis? The chances are you haven’t, but it’s a vital part of sustainability, and at the core of Plastics: Redefining Single-Use.
In order to find out more about life cycle analysis – and the experts who do it – we interviewed team member Dr Rukayya Ibrahim Muazu. Read the full interview here.
We were delighted to host a 2 day digital conference for all 8 UK Higher Education Institutions who were funded to research creative circular economy solutions to eliminate plastic wastes. And now the UK Circular Plastics Network has published the papers, discussions and next steps from the conference. Read - Plastics and Innovation Fund Conference.
We also live tweeted the conference, and you can find our tweets collected here.
Grantham Centre Co-Director Dr Rachael Rothman and one of the leaders of Plastics: Redefining Single-Use was interviewed by national newspaper The Telegraph.
"The problem is the sheer volume we have, it’s not the fact it’s plastic," says Rachael in the interview. "It’s our throwaway attitude to plastic that is the problem." Read the full piece here.
When the UK government requested evidence to create new standards for biodegradable, compostable and bio-based plastics our plastics team was keen to respond.
Dr Stuart Walker, who coordinated the Grantham Centre response, explains why we need clearer language, evidence-based rules, and why traditional plastic may be better – if it can be re-used. Read more here.
Grantham Centre Director and project lead of Plastics: Redefining Single-Use Tony Ryan has been on the BBC speaking about dentists and single-use plastic.
Finding ways to reduce single-use plastic generated as medical waste is one of the core aims of Plastics: Redefining Single-Use.
You can watch it on our YouTube channel here.
A new Grantham Centre project aims to drastically reduce single-use plastic in The University of Sheffield cafes.
Our Cow Molly - a local dairy that supplies all The University of Sheffield cafes with their milk - is partnering with the Grantham Centre to create a new milk delivery system between farm and cafe.
If successful, this project could revolutionise milk supply - not only at university cafes, but across the country.
Read the full story here.
Plastics: Redefining-Single Use got off to a flying start with a 2 day stakeholder event at Sheffield City Hall.
Fantastic ideas and innovations were generated all day - we captured them with '#RedefiningSingleUse' on Twitter↓
Plastics: Redefining Single-Use will challenge the perceived wisdom of a throw-away culture of degradable plastics. Our research will focus on three types of plastic use:
Agriculture: a surprising amount of single-use plastic is used on farms and in agriculture. Are there more efficient and economic alternatives?
Medicine: single-use plastic is currently vital within medicine, we want to find ways to reduce this.
Recycling vs. reusable packaging: some materials on the market as alternatives to single-use plastic might not actually be better for the environment. We want to create alternatives that have been through rigorous analysis to make sure they are more sustainable.
We will examine how single-use plastics are currently used and understood in these 3 areas. Materials selection and production will be analysed with a view to balancing benefits (e.g. product protection) against the current fate of plastics (e.g. landfill, recycling, pollution). Through life cycle analysis we will avoid unintended consequences. For example, solving a problem at one end of the plastic life cycle only to have it pop up elsewhere.
Led by Grantham Centre experts Anthony Ryan and Rachael Rothman, the ethos of Plastics: Redefining Single-Use is that truly creative and novel ideas occur when experts from different disciplines work together.
As such we have created a multidisciplinary team of over 40 chemists, biologists, psychologists, dentists, engineers, social scientists, geographers, and politics and language experts. They will work with an equally diverse group of stakeholders from business (global and local) and policy.
You can read more about the team here.
Funded by the UKRI the project started in January 2019 and runs for 18 months.
This grant is part of £8 million pounds awarded to various research groups all tackling the plastics pollution problem. You can read more about our grant here