Plastic has changed the way we live, but the time has come to address the way we use and dispose of plastic. We need new ways of thinking about the problems of plastic use, particularly single use plastic.
Current levels of reliance on the use of plastics makes this a significant challenge both in terms of needing specific breakthroughs in materials and chemical engineering, alongside the need to change behaviours necessary to move beyond single use fossil derived disposable plastics. What we need to do is to find something which degrades much quicker into biological products, but has the kind of properties currently available in traditional plastics.
Professor Carl Redshaw, University of Hull
We need a holistic approach to materials design and their degradability, with consideration of political and economic issues, as well as the human behavioural issues at the heart of the challenge. Plastic as a material has fallen behind the recycling recovery rates of other materials. Some plastics are easier to recycle than others, but the problem is, they are all intermingled. The circular economy, which emphasises design for environmental protection and minimisation of waste, offers some important approaches, which will required appropriate policy support.
Dr Pauline Deutz, University of Hull