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The Revolution Continues: Be a part of the plastic pollution solution

The Revolution Continues: Be a part of the plastic pollution solution

A waste picker delivers a bag full of plastic bottles to a recycling center | Credit: James Wakibia

Plastic policy @ Portsmouth

4 min read Partner content

As the clock ticks down towards the agreement and ratification of the United Nations global plastics treaty, a panel of experts will meet in London on June 14th to discuss the issues and strategies to tackle the global challenge of plastic pollution.

This timely event is hosted by Revolution Plastics, an initiative based at the University of Portsmouth. Parliamentarians, researchers, advisors and civil servants are invited to join the conversation at RIBA headquarters in Central London. Alongside the experts and academics will be industry representatives, campaigners and young influencers - all focusing on how to reduce the plastic pollution that is putting the planet in peril.

Revolution Plastics is home to the Global Plastics Policy Centre (GPPC), where policies from around the world, designed to reduce the use of plastics, are assessed for effectiveness. The GPPC is a world first, a one stop shop of independent, evidence-based plastics advice for governments and businesses who need to make informed decisions around plastic policies. It is led by Professor Steve Fletcher, an expert member of the UN International Resource Panel, who will be part of an impressive and influential panel at the London event.

Plastic waste, Credit: James Wakibia
Credit: James Wakibia

There has been some progress so far. Single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds are already on the banned list in the UK, while items such as single-use plates and cutlery are due to be added in October. France no longer permits single-use plastic bags or packaging for fresh fruit and vegetables, while India's banned list includes plastic straws, cutlery and carrier bags.

Professor Fletcher says: “That all sounds great but national level policy is often sector specific and isolated, so it does little to shift the global system that creates plastic pollution. Only global bans can have the reach, influence, and power to shift the dial when it comes to changing the plastics economy.”

The UN legally binding global instrument toward ending plastic pollution will attempt to join the dots around the planet, to create a uniform policy picture for the 175 countries who have signed up to reach a draft agreement by the end of 2024. The Global Plastics Policy Centre is supporting negotiations for the development of the treaty, alongside governmental, NGO and international partners. It aims to phase down new plastic entering the economy, which in turn will reduce pollution. Given that the manufacture of plastics from petrochemicals is a significant driver of climate change, this policy could help the world towards net zero targets too. 

Describing the UN treaty as a once-in-a-generation opportunity, Professor Fletcher believes there is a need to be bold and take some big decisions around tackling what has become an urgent global crisis. Panel members will give their views on possible new approaches, which could include a tax on virgin plastic, standardising plastic packaging production so that items are easier to reuse and recycle, banning all unnecessary single-use plastics and those that are hard to recycle, and a ban on all toxic additives. 

Plastic waste, Credit: James Wakibia
Credit: James Wakibia

Lawmakers will need to make difficult decisions that will force change on industry and entire supply chains. Professor Fletcher explains: “There’s no justification for several categories of plastic even being produced in the first place. What is needed is a broad range of policies that interact and support each other, and which consider climate, health, biodiversity loss and economy because they’re intrinsically connected. Currently plastic policy tends to be rather fragmented - for policies to work there needs to be a systemic change.” 

The University of Portsmouth is heavily invested in bringing positive change through its Revolution Plastics initiative. With more than 100 researchers, it aims to transform the way society makes, uses and disposes of plastics. Revolution Plastics spans a multidisciplinary portfolio, from developing plastic-digesting enzymes to combatting microplastic pollution. 

The Revolution Continues event begins with a welcome reception, followed by the panel discussion chaired by Maryam Moshiri, Chief News Presenter from BBC World. Confirmed panellists include; Hugo Tagholm, the UK Executive Director for Oceana - the non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans on a global scale; Noga Levy-Rapoport, a climate campaigner; Sally Beken from Innovate UK: Dr Marcus Gover, Director of the Plastics Initiative at the Minderoo Foundation; Hiten Patel, from Greener NHS; Esrat Karim, Director and Founder of the Amal Foundation; Kené Umeasiegbu, Responsible Sourcing Director at Tesco. 

If you would like to attend the event – please contact

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