University launches plastic revolution to tackle global pollution crisis

Find out how the global plastic crisis affects Portsmouth and what you can do to make a difference in the city at a free online event as part of the University of Portsmouth’s Revolution Plastics initiative.

We use plastic in almost every area of our lives – as packaging, in electronics, clothing and building materials. But half of all plastic becomes waste within a year of being made. Most isn’t recycled, and around eight million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year.

As part of Revolution Plastics, the University is assembling scientists, businesses, campaigners and citizens to transform the way we make, use and dispose of plastic to tackle the global plastic crisis.

At the event, on Thursday 26 November from 1 to 2pm, Professor Steve Fletcher, the University’s Director of the Sustainability and the Environment research theme, will introduce Revolution Plastics and our progress so far.

Discover how we’re tackling the problems associated with plastic – from engineering plastic-dissolving enzymes, making fashion more sustainable and studying how microplastics affect our oceans, economy and the air we breathe.

All of the technical, economic, societal and political hurdles that need to be cleared in most countries to enable changes to plastics life cycles and environmental management are present in Portsmouth.

A panel of experienced guests will then answer questions and explore how we can create a more sustainable future:

• Councillor Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Environment & Climate Change at Portsmouth City Council;

Dr Cressida Bowyer, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth. A scientist by training, having previously worked in the music business, Cressida works across disciplines and applies creative methodologies to the development of health and well-being innovations;

• Louis Capitanchik, Co-founder of Jetsam Tech, a Portsmouth-based environmental technology company, whose app allows anyone to contribute to mapping plastic pollution in Portsmouth;

Dr Fay Couceiro, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth. Fay’s research looks at pollutants in the environment, including microplastics, and develops ways to prevent or mitigate their impact;

• Hannah Harrison, Director of Sustainability at ‎WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising and communications companies;

• Gemma Lacey, Director of Sustainability and Communications, Southern Co-op;

• Edward Walls, Academic Representation Officer at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union.

Professor Fletcher says if the Portsmouth community can revolutionise the use of plastics as part of a larger sustainability platform, then any community in the world can. “We see this as a pilot programme for the planet … an incubator for similar programmes in other cities, communities and countries,” he says.

Professor Fletcher adds: “An extensive survey of Portsmouth residents found most residents are acutely aware of plastic pollution, along with climate change and energy issues. The survey showed most people are keen to reduce plastic waste, but they require guidance, support and, critically, assurance they will not be the ones bearing the cost.

“There’s also a rising level of environmental awareness through local organisations and groups advocating sustainability, conservation and plastic waste reduction. The University of Portsmouth intends to support the community foundation by drawing on its leading research and collaborations with global organisations, including the United Nations.

“All of the technical, economic, societal and political hurdles that need to be cleared in most countries to enable changes to plastics life cycles and environmental management are present in Portsmouth.”

Join the revolution. You can submit questions in advance of the online event, which takes place on Thursday 26 November from 1pm to 2, via Zoom.

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