Sunday, 22 April 2018

Plastics Week in Sidmouth > Plymouth University talk on "The human dimension: How social and behavioural research can help address marine litter": Tuesday 8th May @ Kennaway House

Sidmouth's look at what we are doing with plastic is happening next month:
Futures Forum: Plastics Week in Sidmouth: 7th - 12th May

And the Week will be starting with a look at the latest scientific research - much of which is coming out of Plymouth University:
Futures Forum: Plastic pollution in the oceans > Prof Richard Thomas @ Plymouth University

Indeed, research is key to how we can get ourselves out of the multitude of problems around plastic:
Futures Forum: A solution to our plastic problems > scientific research

And Plymouth University is at the centre of research into this - for example:
The human dimension: how social and behavioural research methods can help address microplastics in the environment - Dimensions

The Plastics Week in Sidmouth will be kicking off with a talk on Tuesday 8th May: 
7pm at the Cellar Bar of Kennaway House.

To be given by Sohvi Nuojua from Plymouth University, who will be talking about:
The human dimension: How social and behavioural research can help address marine litter

She is part of the University's International Marine Litter Research Unit team:
International Marine Litter Research Unit team - University of Plymouth

One of the leads of the team is Prof Sabine Pahl, who has been looking at the issues from the perspective of the University's School of Psychology. This paper gives a taste of some of the issues which Sohvi will be looking at on 8th May in Sidmouth:
The Human Dimension: How Social and Behavioural Research...

Here's the home page of the International Marine Litter Research Unit:

A worldwide problem

Marine litter is a global environmental problem with items of debris now contaminating habitats from the poles to the equator, from the sea surface to the deep sea. This litter has negative consequences for wildlife, for economies and on human health. Over 700 species, including commercially important fish and shellfish, are known to encounter marine litter in the environment. The vast majority of the litter found on shorelines, at the sea surface and that affecting marine life is plastic, and it has been estimated that up to 12 million tons of plastic litter could be entering the ocean every year. There are solutions, but there is an urgent need for action.

At the forefront of marine research 

The International Marine Litter Research Unit is proud to stand at the forefront of research in this area. In 2004 our team was the first to reveal the widespread occurrence of microscopic particles of plastic debris at the sea surface and on shorelines – pieces which we described as microplastics. We have published numerous scientific papers and reports on this topic, have advised governments and international organisations worldwide and we continue to research not only the extent of the problem, but also the solutions.

Our mission 

The International Marine Litter Research Unit has a mission – to further our understanding of the impacts of litter on the environment and society, and to identify the solutions and the pathways necessary to achieve them. 

Discovering microplastics

In 2004, Professor Thompson’s team showed that microplastic particles have accumulated in oceans since the 1960s and are now present worldwide. The International Marine Litter Research Unit described the accumulation of fragments of plastic debris in the oceans and much of its focus is on these microplastics. 
Our work has shown that microplastic debris now contaminates shorelines worldwide; that they are present in substantial quantities in remote locations such as the deep and the Arctic. A range of marine organisms including commercially important species can ingest these pieces and laboratory studies have shown there is potential for this to lead to harmful effects.
Former US President, Barack Obama, signed a bill outlawing the sale and distribution of toothpaste and exfoliating or cleansing products containing microbeads which are a type of microplastic. Our work on this topic has helped inform governments around the world. We submitted evidence to the UK Houses of Parliament in relation to the Environmental Audit Committee enquiry on microplastics.


Our findings are underpinned by research conducted by the team at the University of Plymouth and in collaboration with other leading scientists worldwide. This expertise has guided industry, informed educational and artistic initiatives that raise awareness, and has provided evidence for government agencies and international organisations such as the United Nations.

Plastic pollution and the planet

 In the UK, scientists have for years been saying that more needs to be done to combat the problems posed by marine litter and microplastics. But it is only by creating a sea change in public ways of thinking that we can bring about a positive change. 
Read Professor Richard Thompson's opinion piece

    Strandings of North East Atlantic pink sea fans

    Pink sea fans are a protected species, yet hundreds of sea fans are found on beaches around the South West UK, entangled in marine debris.
    Read the full paper

      Washing clothes releases thousands of synthetic micro fibres

      More than 700,000 microscopic fibres could be released into waste water during each use of a domestic washing machine, with many of them likely to pass through sewage treatment and into the environment.
      By changing the type of fabrics we use it may be possible to reduce the release of these fibres, reducing the impact on the environment.

        Plastic microbeads

        Everyday cosmetic and cleaning products contain huge quantities of plastic particles, which can be released into the environment.
        The International Marine Litter Research Unit explains why the UK ban on plastic microbeads is important.

          Professor of Marine Biology Richard Thompson has been named among the most influential people to the UK plastics industry

          Other high profile figures on the 70-person list, compiled by Plastics and Rubber Weekly, include the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Governor of the Bank of England as well as prominent industry leaders
          Professor Thompson was among only two academics to feature in the list
          View the list on the PRW website

            International Marine Litter Research Unit submits evidence on microplastics to Parliament

            Written and oral evidence supplied by Professor Richard Thompson informed the recent report on microplastics from the Environmental Audit Committee enquiry on microplastics.
            The report draws widely on microplastics research undertaken at Plymouth University and in particular a recent paper on microbeads used in cosmetics (Napper, I. E., Bakir, A., Rowland, S. J. & Thompson, R. C. 2015 Characterisation, Quantity and Sorptive Properties of Microplastics Extracted From Cosmetics. Marine Pollution Bulletin 99, 178-185).
            The Environmental Audit Committee Report, which calls for a ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetics, can be seen at Publication of Environmental impact of microplastics report together with an interactive report summary.

            International Marine Litter Research Unit - University of Plymouth

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