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South West to lead charge on cutting plastic waste

University of Exeter's gets £1 million grant

It idea is to look at the way the region produces, recycles and utilises plastics. The programme is the first of its kind at a UK regional level that will aim to redesign the whole system to improve the environment as well as create jobs and economic growth.

The University of Exeter will join forces with businesses, charities and local authorities from Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) announced in December that it was awarding the university £1 million for the Exeter Multidisciplinary Plastics Research Hub (ExeMPLaR) as one of the leading centres to reduce the devastating impact plastic pollution may have on the health of humans and marine wildlife.

Professor Tamara Galloway, from the University of Exeter, who has also been involved in calling for a national Plastic Packaging Plan to protect the oceans says:“Our research has shown the widespread impacts that plastic litter can have on marine life and on the food chain. By taking systematic action to create a more circular economy for plastic, we can make better use of this great resource and keep the oceans cleaner at the same time.” 

“This isn’t about getting rid of plastics altogether, they are fantastic materials which play an important role in society. This is about joining forces and bringing all our expertise to bear on a common problem – reducing the amount of waste material that ends up discarded into the environment every year.”

Professor Peter Hopkinson, Director of the Centre for Circular Economy at the University’s Business School and ExeMPLaR lead says: “This is a huge opportunity for our region to pioneer work on the use plastics that will have national and international significance.

“We will be looking for practical, effective solutions at a regional scale – from reducing plastic waste to seeking alternative natural products. There will be economic benefits too and we want to ensure that when a material is recycled the new product is as valuable as the first. There are many challenges to overcome as this is such a new approach but there are also big opportunities, including creating jobs in the south west.”


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