By encouraging businesses and end-users to share their experiences of the creation, use and recycling of plastics, including exploring the alternatives to plastics, it is likely that our Logistics Institute expertise will be able to analyse these supply chains and material flows to suggest potential initiatives to save energy material and waste through improved process design.
Changing Consumer Behaviour
Through interaction with stakeholders and end-users the behavioural psychologists may also be able to come up with new insights on how people may be persuaded to change their ways.
Accelerated Take Up of New Plastics
Stakeholder engagement will increase local awareness and engagement with the research going on throughout the university, potentially shortening the pathways and timescales for translation of novel ideas, materials and processes into application and use.
Development of Bio-Based Plastics
The creation of novel bio-derived polymers can be scaled up to create new plastics which, once adopted at scale, can significantly contribute to reducing the entry of persistent plastics to the environment. Achieving the adoption of novel plastics, at a cost suitable for introduction on a mass market scale, is no small challenge, but is only possible once the initial material development work has started.
Reprocessing of Plastic Waste
More significant may be the development of a commercially viable reprocessing method for depolymerisation, gasification and regeneration of useful chemicals derived from post use plastic waste, which can be used in the regeneration of new consumer plastics. One key intended outcome of this is to be able to resolve a key problem in consumer recycling, that of having to distinguish and separate different types of plastics, including recyclable, non-recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. The aim within this project is to test and develop a process that can make use of these in mixed form, then the collection and processing of post-consumer waste can be greatly simplified.
Testbed to Provide Blueprint for Larger Trials
Use of the University of Hull as a test site for novel practices in plastics use and reclamation and in alternatives to plastic, will create a knowledge base and practical experience for larger regional and national scale trials of successful initiatives.
All of these together will have a significant beneficial effect on the local environment, and on other environments which are currently impacted by plastics disposal, many of which are low income countries who import and process a large proportion of the plastic waste currently generated in Europe and America.