Designing-out Plastic Waste

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

We will develop new enzyme catalysed recycling technology for laminate films with our development process involving circular economy economic models, materials flow models, materials property analysis as well as biochemical engineering (Objective 1). In parallel we will also identify design flaws and undertake feasibility studies of design interventions in plastic economy, led by expertise from our Industrial Steering Committee (Objective 2). We also recognise that we need to inspire the public to understand the value of plastics and to motivate them to engage with the new technologies and systems that will be developed to a circular economy of plastics. Indeed their cooperation and engagement is vital to the success of the UK Plastics Pact. To do this we will create a research interface for the public called the Plastics Waste Innovation Hub. This will bring together different disciplines within UCL, from other UK research institutions, industry, policy experts, and in dialogue with the public help the UK progress towards the goals of the UK Plastics Pact (Objective 3). Our mode of working will be to hire six post-docs each from a different discipline as represented and recruited by our PI and Co-Is. They will be co-located to form the core of the Plastics Waste Innovation Hub. These researchers will work together with our project coordinator, managed by our PI and Co-Is, to achieve all three objectives. We will split the work between them to take advantage of their discipline specific skills, but they will also work as a design team, creating system solutions to meet our Objectives.

Planned Impact

The aim of this research project is to help design-out plastic waste and enable the UK move to a circular economy of plastics. Of course this will take longer than the 18 month time period of this research project, but we have identified three short-term objectives which together build a strong platform for future research. We envisage specific impact as follows:

Enzyme Catalysed Molecular Recycling
We will develop new approaches for molecular recycling and synthesis of plastics using enzymes, including the proof of principle of the bioengineering involved, the materials properties produced, models for materials flow, life cycle analysis and a business case for integration in the circular economy of plastics.

Plastic Waste Innovation Hub
We will establish a multidisciplinary creative hub where a growing community of researchers, external industry partners, and the government will strengthen existing links and create long-term research programmes in the area of plastic waste and the circular economy. Our six PDRAs will emerge as systems thinkers with an in-depth knowledge of the plastic waste problem and potential solutions; they will be ready to innovate and play an important role in the future of the UK plastics economy. Similarly the twelve students who undertook summer studentships will have an insight into the future economy and be better equipped to contribute to it.

Public Champions of Sustainable Plastic Packaging
We will have a strong public presence as well as an important educational outlook. We will inform public debate and supply new data and insight into the public discourse on the important role of plastics in society, and particularly in reducing food waste. We will inspire a new generation to take up the challenge of tackling the plastic waste problem and the move to a circular economy.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Illustrated artist's book, 'One Pop! Bottle' (London: 2020) 
Description A small-run artist's book (1000 copies), designed and illustrated by UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub's Artist-in-Residence, Ruby Wright, that describes the life cycle of a plastic bottle and explores our attitude to the use (and misuse) of plastics. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact We have offered free copies of the artist's book for use as an educational tool. Copies have been requested for library collections, museum collections, schools, and academies, as well as other interested parties such as home composters, plastics enthusiasts, and industry experts. 
URL http://www.rubywright.com/?page_id=323
 
Title Website and online survey for the Big Compost Experiment 
Description The Big Compost Experiment is a nationwide research project about the role and effectiveness of compostable and biodegradable packaging. It is one of the research initiatives of UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub, an 18-month interdisciplinary research project (funded by UKRI and EPSRC) aimed at developing new ways of designing out plastic waste. It comprises a short online survey of your opinions on compostable and biodegradable packaging, and how you process food waste. There is also an optional home composting experiment for those who wish to participate further. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact There is the opportunity to analyse the data collected on the UK's use and composting of biodegradable and compostable plastics, in order to make more informed recommendations for the use of biodegradable and compostable plastics as alternatives to single-use plastics, i.e. policy-making process and future strategies. This data will also help to build our Live Composting Map, a live map of home-composting activities across the UK. 
URL https://www.bigcompostexperiment.org.uk
 
Description We have assembled a multidisciplinary group of academics including scientists, engineers, designers, and social scientists from across University College London to work closely with industry. Our goals are: (i) develop new ways of recycling plastics using enzymes; (ii) designing-out waste from plastic packaging; (iii) creating new circular economy business opportunities; and (iv) engaging with the public. Research quality We are developing novel approaches for molecular recycling and the synthesis of bio-derived plastics using enzymes. We are focusing on the discovery and application of new enhanced enzymes to degrade PET, including the retrieval and characterisation of any potential PETases identified in our metagenomes, and enzyme mutagenesis. Using life cycle analysis (LCA), material flow analysis (MFA), and financial analysis we have been conducting circular economy analyses of the existing UK biodegradable plastics sector. Our full report was submitted to UK Government's consultation on 14 October 2019. We have papers in preparation on enzyme and mechanochemistry, mutagenesis and PETases, behavioural analysis, LCA of biodegradables; with one paper already published in the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling. Contribution to addressing plastics challenges We have applied the social science of behaviour change, with the environmental science of biosystems and microorganisms, LCA, MFA, circular economy analysis, and applied this to product and service design. Using this multidisciplinary methodology we are designing out plastic waste in six product categories: 1) feminine hygiene products with industrial partner FLO; 2) enzyme degradation of fabrics made from recycled PET with industrial partner Waste2Wear; 3) a closed-loop model of returnable coffee cups with UCL; 4) PP tree shelters with the Woodland Trust; 5) food packaging in partnership with Deliveroo; and 6) the design of a circular economy of plastic waste scaffolding boards. Impact in eliminating plastics waste Our design work with Deliveroo, who deliver 45,000 take-away meals a day, could significantly reduce the estimated 1000 tonnes of plastic waste per year that go into landfill as a result of their deliveries. Our LCA work with FLO evidences the beneficial environmental impact of using bioplastics and may help to grow this product sector. Our circular economy analysis of tree shelters with the Woodland Trust reveals that hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic may be diverted from being abandoned in forests. Our report on biodegradable plastics shows that their environmental impact could be reduced significantly with the reform of the PRN system. Our Big Compost Experiment will provide data on home compostable plastics that will inform policy to reduce the impact of plastic waste and microplastics. Our work has been widely reported in the media (e.g. BBC, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail), and the team have made regular contributions to peer-reviewed public-policy documents. Resources and management We launched the Plastic Waste Innovation Hub in March 2019, which is a physical space that co-locates postdoc researchers from different disciplines, as well as the Project Coordinator. The management team meets on a monthly basis; while the postdocs and PhD students meet weekly. The PI attends, and chairs all of these meetings, and, along with the Project Coordinator, keeps track of progress and deliverables. Our Steering Committee guides the work and has representation from producers and users of plastic packaging, waste reprocessing organisations, and other independent bodies. Multi-/interdisciplinary working The work of the Hub is intrinsically multidisciplinary, as our team comprises researchers from across UCL, spanning biopolymer synthesis, scalable manufacturing, new service models for products, behaviour change, thermal treatment technologies, polymer biodegradability, LCA, MFA, and circular economy analysis. Multidisciplinarity is embedded in the research culture at UCL; sharing information, data, techniques, perspectives, and specialised knowledge is fundamental to the scope of the project.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Chemicals,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Contribution to POSTnotes 'Compostable Food Packaging,' 2 July 2019
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0606#fullreport
 
Description Contribution to POSTnotes 'Plastic Food Packaging Waste,' 2 July 2019
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0605#fullreport
 
Description Report: 'Biodegradable plastics: An assessment of their role in the plastic waste crisis' - submitted to the UK Government's Consultation on Standards for biodegradable, compostable and bio-based plastics, on the 14th October 2019
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description New microbial consortia for breaking down MOD oil and diesel waste materials into useful end products
Amount £211,244 (GBP)
Funding ID DSTLX1000145880 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2021
 
Description UCL Grand Challenges: Well-being in a Throwaway Culture
Amount £4,760 (GBP)
Funding ID 156425 Grand Challenges 
Organisation University College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2020 
End 07/2020
 
Title Website and online survey for the Big Compost Experiment 
Description The Big Compost Experiment is a nationwide research project about the role and effectiveness of compostable and biodegradable packaging. It is one of the research initiatives of UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub, an 18-month interdisciplinary research project (funded by UKRI and EPSRC) aimed at developing new ways of designing out plastic waste. It comprises a short online survey of your opinions on compostable and biodegradable packaging, and how you process food waste. There is also an optional home composting experiment for those who wish to participate further. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact There is the opportunity to analyse the data collected on the UK's use and composting of biodegradable and compostable plastics, in order to make more informed recommendations for the use of biodegradable and compostable plastics as alternatives to single-use plastics, i.e. policy-making process and future strategies. This data will also help to build our Live Composting Map, a live map of home-composting activities across the UK. 
URL https://www.bigcompostexperiment.org.uk
 
Company Name PLASTIC WASTE BOARDS LIMITED 
Description UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub was invited by Plastic Waste Boards Ltd to carry out a proof of concept on the design and manufacture of recycled plastic planks. Plastic Waste Boards Ltd wanted to understand the potential to manufacture a scaffolding plank made from recycled material, and, if so, what the most economic manufacturing process to do so would be. 
Year Established 2019 
Impact This industrial collaboration resulted in the proof of concept on the design and manufacture of recycled-PET scaffolding boards and circular-economy business model. Patents and funding are also being explored.
 
Description Article, 'Biodegradable alternatives may not be silver bullet to solve the plastics crisis,' Nuu: Digital Voice of the Advanced Bioeconomy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed to an article questioning the merits of various green solutions to the plastics crisis, including plant-based and biodegradable materials. This article was written in direct response to article in The Guardian (7 July 2019).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://biofuelsdigest.com/nuudigest/2019/07/08/biodegradable-alternatives-may-not-be-silver-bullet-t...
 
Description Article, 'Biodegradable plastic is misleading because most will not break down in compost heaps, UCL scientists say,' The Telegraph 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed to article about the misleading information around biodegradable plastics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/06/biodegradable-plastic-misleading-will-not-break-compost-...
 
Description Article, 'Biodegradable plastic is misleading because most will not break down in compost heaps, say UCL scientists,' British Plastics and Rubber 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed expert opinion to article on compostable and biodegradable products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.britishplastics.co.uk/Environment/biodegradable-plastic-is-misleading-because-most-will-...
 
Description Article, 'Can UCL scientists win the race against single-use plastics?' Kinesis Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Prof John Ward and Dr Dragana Dobrijevic contributed to an article for Kinesis Magazine, the UCL Life Sciences student publication, about what strategies UCL staff and students can employ to achieve its commitment to go plastic-free by 2024.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://kinesismagazine.com/2020/01/12/can-ucl-scientists-win-the-race-against-the-use-of-single-use...
 
Description Article, 'Can we break our addiction to plastic? The future of packaging,' Financial Times 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed to article about the future of plastic packaging and possible alternatives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ft.com/content/27cf9734-faa7-11e9-98fd-4d6c20050229
 
Description Article, 'Chucking Compostable Packaging In Your Food Bin Not As Eco-Friendly As You Think,' Huffington Post 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed expertise and opinions to article on biodegradable products and their unintended environmental consequences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/chucking-compostable-waste-in-your-food-bin-might-not-be-as-e...
 
Description Article, 'Citizen Science: The Big Compost Experiment,' The Week: Junior 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Contributed information about the Big Compost Experiment to short article for Science World (The Week: Junior).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Article, 'Compostable cups end up inlandfill,' Scottish Daily Mail 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed expertise and research to article about compostable products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.pressreader.com/uk/scottish-daily-mail/20190607/282351156273939
 
Description Article, 'FPA wants more honesty in compostables debate,' Packaging News 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contribution to article that debates the relative virtues of compostable and biodegradable plastic packaging.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.packagingnews.co.uk/news/fpa-wants-honesty-compostables-debate-10-06-2019
 
Description Article, 'Icon News goes back to paper!' Icon News, The Institute of Conservation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contribution to Icon News's research into biodegradable plastics as viable alternative to plastic films. As a result, Icon News is now packaged in a paper envelope, rather than a plastic film. Mark Miodownik interviewed as part of the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://icon.org.uk/news/icon-news-goes-back-to-paper
 
Description Article, 'Mark Miodownik: There is 'no value' in biodegradable plastic (at the moment)' BBC Science Focus Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact With retailers beginning to switch from single-use plastic to biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable alternatives, Mark Miodownik discusses their potential harm to the environment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/mark-miodownik-there-is-no-value-in-biodegradable-plastic-at-the-m...
 
Description Article, 'Plastic planet: The plastic problem,' The Bartlett Review 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik, Prof Susan Michie, and Dr Teresa Domenech contributed their research and ideas to a feature article about the plastic-waste problem for The Bartlett Review 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/about-us/bartlett-review/bartlett-review-2019
 
Description Article, 'Sainsbury's to become the first British supermarket to ditch plastic bags for fruit and veg,' The Telegraph 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed to thinking behind article on reducing plastic waste.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/06/sainsburys-becomes-first-supermarket-get-rid-plastic-bag...
 
Description Article, 'Teabags: Is there plastic in yours?' BBC News 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed to short article online about the use of single-use plastics in teabags.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50260687
 
Description Article, 'The compostable products that could take years to break down,' The Times 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed expert opinion to article on the truth behind compostable products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/compostable-products-landfill-years-breakdown-disposable-q3ccfvdv...
 
Description Article, 'The search for a cleaner, greener plastic,' The Guardian 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed expertise and opinion to article for The Observer about finding solutions to plastic waste.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/07/the-search-for-a-cleaner-greener-plastic-ocean-p...
 
Description Article, 'What is The Big Compost Experiment?' Gardens Illustrated 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Danielle Purkiss and Prof Mark Miodownik contributed to an article to Gardens Illustrated on the Big Compost Experiment, our nationwide citizen science compost experiment that looks at whether 'compostable' plastics can actually be composted. The article has encouraged more people to participate in the online survey and experiment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.gardensillustrated.com/feature/big-compost-experiment-plastic-waste/?utm_source=twitter&...
 
Description Article, Just Rot True,' The Sun 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed to article about the relative value of single-use plastics and biodegradable products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9241329/cutlery-coffee-cups-compostable-decay/
 
Description BBC Radio 4 TODAY programme contributor 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Today programme interview
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Compostables; helping to reduce packaging waste or causing more hidden damage than good? as part of Big Plastics Debate, Packaging Innovations, Olympia London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Mark Miodownik took part in a panel discussion, with materials experts Bruce Bratley, CEO and founder of First Mile, and Andy Sweetman, chairman of BBIA, to assess whether compostables they are helping to reduce packaging waste or causing more hidden damage than good. The discussion was followed by a Q&A session, during which only 10% of audience voted on the feasibility of biodegradables.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Design Iteration and Prototyping, short course at University College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Taught 'Design Iteration and Prototyping' module to BASc and BEng students, UCL
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description EPSRC: Designing-out Plastic Waste, short film 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Short film produced by and for the EPSRC, in which Professor Mark Miodownik and Prof Helen Hailes from UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Fund discuss the plastic waste crisis and the 'Designing-out Plastic Waste' project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=T19aqcu4rYQ
 
Description Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Summit 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The 2019 Summit brought together world leading thinkers, innovators, and pioneers, who are refining and implementing the vision of an economic system that is restorative and regenerative, by design.

Mark Miodownik took part in a panel discussion around materials innovation, addressing themes such as the need for a cross-industry approach to sustainability; product durability and repairability; and the importance of embracing environmental and economic challenges when designing (particularly plastic) products. He was joined by a penal of experts, including Florian Graichen, Science Leader at Scion, Daniella Russo, Founder and CEO of Think Beyond Plastic, and Catia Bastioli, CEO of Novamont.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oh5ZXfAH64
 
Description Festival of Stuff talk: Plastic Fantastic with Mark Miodownik 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of Festival of Stuff 2019, Mark Miodownik explored the materiality of the plastics with demos and samples. The event was followed by a Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.instituteofmaking.org.uk/events/detail/festival-of-stuff-talk-plastic-fantastic-with-mar...
 
Description GCSE Science Live! Bridgewater Hall, Manchester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The primary objective of GCSE Science Live! is to generate greater enthusiasm for science amongst GCSE pupils. The events are nationwide and the students are encouraged to ask questions and engage in debate with the panel of speakers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://gcsesciencelive.net/event_categories/manchester-2/
 
Description GCSE Science Live! Symphony Hall, Birmingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The primary objective of GCSE Science Live! is to generate greater enthusiasm for science amongst GCSE pupils. The events are nationwide and the students are encouraged to ask questions and engage in debate with the panel of speakers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://gcsesciencelive.net/event_categories/birmingham/
 
Description Girl Guides War on Plastic, London. UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Danielle Purkiss and Charnett Chau from UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub shared their research and ideas around plastic waste with London's Girl Guides. There is the potential to do another event around composting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description IdentiPlast 2019: 14th International Conference on the Recycling and Recovery of Plastics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The 14th edition of IdentiPlast, Europe's leading conference focused on the recycling and recovery of used plastics, was the largest ever. It featured talks from over 50 world-leading speakers in plastics recycling and waste management and had over 340 attendees. Prof Mark Miodownik was brought on-board as a 'motivational speaker' on Day 2 of the conference, which focused on the technical aspects of improving the management of plastic waste, ranging from increasing collection, improving sorting technologies, and adapting recycling processes to a large variety of waste.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.plasticseurope.org/en/newsroom/events/2019/identiplast-2019
 
Description LCA for Circular Economy Plastics Network, UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion of LCA methodologies across eight Plastics Research Innovation Fund (PRIF) projects, which includes UCL. Day-long event organised by Charnett Chau (UCL) and Xiaoyu Yan (University of Exeter).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description LCA for Circular Economy of Plastics Network, UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented the opportunity to share LCA methodologies amongst researchers involved in the eight Plastics Research and Innovation Fund (PRIF) projects, of which UCL is one.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Launch of UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact More than 100 people attended the launch of the Plastic Waste Innovation Hub, including UCL staff, those from industry, public sector, government, and the public. The event opened with a welcome from Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker, Dean of UCL Engineering, followed by an overview of government policy by Thomas Pye from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The goals of the UK Plastic Pact and the role of WRAP were then outlined by Viktoria Salisbury (WRAP), and Sally Bekin (Innovate UK) described the work of the UK Circular Plastics Network (UKCPN). This was followed by a vision for the Plastic Waste Hub and brief presentations from the core project team on the Designing-out Plastic Waste project. Questions from the audience were wide ranging; there was significant interest in the causal relationship between plastic waste, marine pollution, and the role of the fishing industry. The availability of fifteen summer studentships to explore different aspects of the plastic waste problem was announced.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.plasticwastehub.org.uk/news/ucl-launches-its-plastic-waste-innovation-hub
 
Description Life Cycle Assessment and Design Information Gathering, short course at University College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Charnett Chau and Danielle Purkiss from UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub taught 'Life Cycle Assessment and Design Information Gathering' to BASc and BEng students, UCL
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Life Cycle Assessment and Qualitative Research, short course at University College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact UCL's Plastic Waste Hub researchers, Danielle Purkiss and Charnett Chau, gave qualitative-research methods lecture to Arts and Sciences (BASc) and Biochemical Engineering (BEng) students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Media broadcast, 'Ci siamo imballati,' Rai - Radiotelevisione Italiana Spa 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik shares his views on the plastic packaging debate, and the present need to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.rai.it/programmi/report/inchieste/Futuro-imballo-afe1919f-022e-4b5e-8e05-b5d2fa8eb1ac.ht...
 
Description Media broadcast, 'Using less: what can we give up for the planet?' TRT World 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Dr Teresa Domenech participated in a roundtable discussion about the environmental consequences of climate change, and what we can do to help.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh5kZ5zIciY
 
Description One Pop! Bottle workshop, Charles Dickens Primary School, London. SE1 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik and Artist-in-Residence Ruby Wright presented One Pop! Bottle, their new book about recycling plastics, to a school group of 400 students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://www.charlesdickens.southwark.sch.uk
 
Description Perspectives on a better future for plastics, as part of Raw Materials: Plastics, Bow Arts, The Nunnery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Mark Miodownik covered topics including molecular recycling, bio-derived polymers, the plastic life-cycle, and our own changing behaviour towards materials. The event was followed by a Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://bowarts.org/nunnery/perspectives-on-a-better-future-for-plastics
 
Description Presentation: 'Delightful and Dangerous Liquids,' as part of NI Science Festival 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik presented a talk exploring the liquids that can bring death and destruction as well as wonder and fascination, in line with the research for his recent book, Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives (Penguin Books: London, 2019)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=47
 
Description Presentation: 'Materials for the 21st Century,' as part of 'Chemistry in Action,' Emmanuel Centre, London. N1 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik led a session entitled 'Materials for the 21st Century' to A Level and IB students, as part of 'Chemistry in Action,' a series of events organised to inspire scientists of the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://thetrainingpartnership.org.uk/study-day/chemistry-in-action-2-03-2020/
 
Description Radio broadcast, Broadcasting House, BBC Radio 4 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik discussed the Big Compost Experiment, our nationwide citizen science project, on this Sunday morning news magazine programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000bdld
 
Description Radio broadcast, Cambridge 105 FM 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Danielle Purkiss was invited for an interview with Cambridge 105 FM to discuss the Big Compost Experiment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://cambridge105.co.uk/leigh-chambers-23-12-2019/
 
Description Radio broadcast, Inside Science, BBC Radio 4 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Danielle Purkiss and Prof Mark Miodownik discussed The Big Compost Experiment, our nationwide citizen science project launched as part of Designing-out Plastic Waste.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0009yxv
 
Description Radio programme, 'BBC World Service,' BBC Radio 4, 27 February 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik talks to BBC Radio 4's 'World Service' about single-use plastic sachets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p084wl1x
 
Description Radio programme, 'PM,' BBC Radio 4, 26 February 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik talked to BBC Radio 4's 'PM' programme about single-use plastic sachets, in response to A Plastic Planet's call for sachets to be outlawed. Mark Miodownik calls for systems change and reuse, rather than swapping out materials.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000fq8d
 
Description Radio, 'The Big Compost Experiment,' 'BBC Inside Science,' BBC Radio 4, 27 February 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik and Danielle Purkiss update on their Big Compost Experiment for UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub. Launched back in November, the team asked members of the public to fill in an online questionnaire about their composting and recycling habits. With special reference to plastic packaging labelled as 'compostable', they want to find out whether the public's compost bins can break down these products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000fpbv
 
Description School presentation, Akiva School, East Finchley 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub ran an educational workshop, as part of Akiva School's Art & Science Week, in order to raise awareness of plastic waste and recycling. The children were aged between 5 and 11 years old; there were 450 children in total. The event was followed by a Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Solving a problem like plastic, NewScientistLive 2019, ExCel London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In this talk, Mark Miodownik showcased the latest research, technologies, and social movements that promise to create a zero-waste economy. The event was followed by a Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://live.newscientist.com/2019-speaker-programme/solving-a-problem-like-plastic#/
 
Description The Architects' Journal Retrofit Awards 2019, The Brewery, London. EC1 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The AJ Retrofit Awards celebrates the design expertise behind the vital renewal and repurposing of existing buildings, slashing the industry's carbon footprint in the process. With a huge spend on upgrading housing, commercial, and industrial buildings in prospect, retrofits will play a major role in the future of UK construction. The awards cover nine categories, including healthcare, housing, higher education, and listed buildings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://retrofit.architectsjournal.co.uk
 
Description The Challenges of Ending Plastic Waste, as part of Pint of Science, Northern Monk Refractory, Manchester 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In this talk, Mark Miodownik discussed the technical and cultural issues around doing the right thing for the environment, particularly in regard to biodegradable plastics. The event encouraged audience participation and lively debate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://pintofscience.co.uk/event/the-challenges-of-ending-plastic-waste
 
Description The Future of Distributed Ledger Technology, Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge. UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Poster presentation as part of the event. Knowledge sharing and discussions around the potential and possibilities of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) as a technology for both Government and the UK as a whole.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://gateway.newton.ac.uk/event/tgmw71
 
Description The Miracle of Plastic, 2019 Waste Zone, part of Futurebuild 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This event, as part of Futurebuild 2019's 'Waste Zone' seminars, brought together over 50 international circular economy industry specialists to share their insights into circular-design thinking in architecture and design, and to inspire and educate visitors into taking steps to support the move away from the industry's current throwaway culture. In a panel session titled 'The Miracle of Plastic', Prof Mark Miodownik discussed plastic's ability to help us achieve a circular economy. The talk was followed by a Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://eventguides.co.uk/Futurebuild_2019_Event_Guide/
 
Description The Plastic Waste Solution, part of Cheltenham Science Festival 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The event focused on new research into plastic waste, as well as the technologies and social movements promising to create a zero-waste economy. The event was followed by a Q&A session and created a lot of press interest, both in relation to UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub and the wider issues around plastic waste.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://issuu.com/cheltenhamfestivals/docs/science_festival_2019_brochure
 
Description The Problem of Plastic Waste - How to Make a Difference, as part of Incontinence: The Engineering Challenge XII, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London. UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This two-day conference featured a mix of sessions on the latest engineering challenges, solutions, technologies, and research managing the problem of incontinence. It involved several interactive sessions aimed at stimulating discussion and sharing ideas, including workshops and Q&A sessions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://events.imeche.org/ViewEvent?code=CON6799
 
Description The Problem with Plastics, part of Bradford Literature Festival 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In this hour-long talk as part of Bradford Literature Festival 2019, Mark Miodownik introduced the concept of 'designing-out' plastic waste, while also exploring the science, history, and the positives of plastic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bradfordlitfest.co.uk/event/mark-miodownik-problem-plastics/
 
Description Thinking through Plastic, as part of Small Steps, Big Ideas, Library at Conway Hall, Bloomsbury Festival 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Several of the team from UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub led an informative discussion about the current state of plastics and how to use them more sustainably. Topics covered included molecular recycling, bio-derived polymers, the life-cycle of plastics, and our own changing behaviour towards materials. The event was followed by a Q&A session, and drummed up interest in our nationwide Citizen Science project, the Big Compost Experiment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://bloomsburyfestival.org.uk/event/small-steps-big-ideas-thinking-through-plastic/
 
Description Through the Microscope: The lively art of decomposition, fermentation and transformation, Calthorpe Community Garden, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Involvement in the workshop created interest in our nationwide Citizen Science experiment, the Big Compost Experiment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub - Community-building Workshop, London. WC1H 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This community-building event, which was organised by UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub, aimed at discussing the challenges of plastic waste, and to learn about potential opportunities for working together to ameliorate the situation. It provided an opportunity to network with specialists from across a community of practice, including manufacturers, retailers, policy makers, local government, sustainability charities, and waste management. Delegates participated in a community-building session to generate, and discuss new ideas and approaches to the plastic-waste challenge, including: new recyclable materials; new designs with improved functionality and sustainability; new/improved recycling technologies and processes; new/improved supply chain and business models; and environmental impacts and behaviour change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description UKRI Circular Plastic LCA Network, Central House, UCL 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A knowledge-sharing and collaborative event organised by the UKRI Circular Plastic Network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Unwrapping the Packaging Problem, British Library 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Prof Mark Miodownik took part in a panel discussion, in which the panel considered plastic packaging materials and methods and asked: What routes forward are there for society and science? With materials scientist Mark Miodownik, and Everyday Plastic Project team artist Daniel Webb and scientist Julie Schneider. The panel discussion was followed by a Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bl.uk/events/unwrapping-the-packaging-problem