Why is single use plastic a problem and what can be done about it?

Why is single use plastic a problem and what can be done about it?

Aug 5, 2019, 12:58:29 PM Life and Styles

How Various Universities in the UK are tackling with Plastic?


We all have been hearing about plastic pollution these days but some of us are not aware of how plastic can pollute the environment. Well, as the world population augments, the amount of garbage also increases since the plastic products that are disposable, such as soda cans and water bottles, mount up over time. The accumulation results in pollution when sufficient plastic collects in an area or a region that harms humans, animals, or plants and affects the natural environment.

The production of plastic has increased by 20 times since 1964 and is generating a turnover of billions of dollars every year. However, leakage of plastic waste and littering is also because of the plastic industry, which is most likely to affect the health of human beings through the air and food chain. Hence, in order to avoid any harm, it is necessary to tackle plastic pollution.

Various Universities across the UK, especially in London, have adopted different ways to tackle plastic pollution in order to combat the rising tide of plastics in the nation. The following are a few examples:

  • Two students, namely George Davis and Emily Hodgkinson, from the University of East London have designed a bin that motivates people near beaches to dispose of plastic waste. The bin is shaped like a life ring and has messages and pictures that highlight the impact of plastic pollution on aquatic life.

  • For the reduction of 650,000 bottles that are used across their London Road and Whiteknights campuses every year, the University has introduced the ‘Sustain It’ bottles that are reusable. This act of embedding sustainability will help manage their impact on the global environment.

  • Similar to Whiteknights University, the University of Westminster has also switched to reusable bottles to prevent the use of single-use plastic bottles. This is a result of their recognition of the responsibility to operate and act in such ways as to diminish their environmental impact. Moreover, they are selling the bottles at a very low cost, as much as £3.60, in order to encourage their students to switch to reusable plastics.

  • University College London (UCL) has taken a step towards an eco-friendly environment by introducing reusable plastic cups. These will be available at UCL cafes and shops on a non-profit basis.

  • One of the greatest steps ever taken by a University to tackle plastic pollution is by the London Metropolitan University. On World Environment Day, it went plastic-free to sensitise the harm that is caused by single-use plastics.

Other than the above actions, many others have taken steps to tackle the pollution caused by plastics. The Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment and Sky Ocean Ventures have tied up to work on their mutual goals of protecting the environment by supporting scientific innovations and business. Other than this, they also share motivational messages regarding the advantages to our planet of removing plastic waste.

Furthermore, the Science Minister of the UK, Chris Skidmore, previously announced the following eight research projects that would explore various new ways of producing, using, and recycling plastics


  • RE3 – Rethinking Resources and Recycling: Led by The University of Manchester, the aim of the research is to evolve a new chemical method of recycling polluted and mixed soft plastic materials and to develop graphene membrane filters to remove microplastics in water.

  • Evolving a circular plastics economy will be led by the University of Hull. It will look for the development of biodegradable biopolymers. This means that the plastics will not persist in the environment and can be reused after disposal and breakdown.

  • Designing-out Plastic Waste would be led by University College London. The University will create a new bacteria-based recycling technology that will consume plastics, breaking them down into reusable material.

  • The University of Exeter will lead the Exeter Multidisciplinary Plastics Research Hub

  • Imperial College London will lead Holistic integration of technology, design and policy for a greener plastic future

  • University of Sheffield – Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures will focus on Plastics: Redefining Single-Use

  • Advancing Creative Circular Economies for Plastics via Technological-Social Transitions by Queen’s University of Belfast

  • UKRI Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste by University of Cambridge

The extent to which we are using plastics is likely to result in more plastic than fish by 2050, in accordance with campaigner and sailor Dame Ellen McArthur. Therefore, it is essential to reduce the use of plastics in order to diminish the impact that plastics have on the environment.


Published by john paret

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