The conference will be split into five sessions, delivered over three days. We encourage everyone to attend all sessions, to gain a broad understanding of the plastics problem and possible mitigations. Sessions will consist of invited short talks, posters, roundtable discussions and workshops. The conference programme will also include installations, film screenings, exhibitions and performances. 

This programme will be updated. Check back for the latest information and follow us on Twitter @UoPPlastics.

Tuesday 20th June

Introduction and welcome:

Professor Steve Fletcher, Director, and Dr Cressida Bowyer, Deputy Director, Revolution Plastics, University of Portsmouth, UK

Session 1: Microplastics - detection, transport and impacts for environmental and human health

Chair: Dr Fay CouceiroReader in Biogeochemistry and Environmental Pollution, Faculty of Technology, University of Portsmouth, UK

Invited Speaker: Dr Ben Williams, Senior Research Fellow, Air Quality Management Resource Centre, University of the West of England, UK

Microplastics are everywhere in our lives, in the food we eat and the air we breathe. As research on microplastics gathers pace, it is becoming apparent that microplastics may impact human health and we need to understand how to limit our exposure.

There are currently many projects and policies looking at how to reduce plastic use in packaging but less understanding on how this will impact microplastic numbers.  This session will take a closer look at the challenges and discuss possible solutions.

Themes

  • Methods of analysis - including data collection
  • Citizen science 
  • Microplastics in water, land and air
  • Microplastics human health implications
close up image of a finger covered with tiny pieces of plastic

Session 2: Exploring the current issues of plastic use within the context of fashion and textiles and the role of plastics in the future

Chairs: 

  • Noorin Khamisani, Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Textiles, and co-lead of the Fashion, Textiles and Material Futures Research and Innovation Group, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Portsmouth, UK
  • Mrs Karen Ryan, Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Textiles, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth, UK

Invited Speaker: Kate Goldsworthy, Professor of Circular Design and Innovation, Co-Director, Centre for Circular Design (CCD), Deputy Director, Business of Fashion Textiles & Technology (BFTT), University of the Arts London (UAL), UK 

An opportunity to discuss current issues of plastic use within the context of fashion and textiles. Each year, the industry uses 342 million barrels of petroleum to produce plastic-based fibres such as polyester, nylon or acrylic. This equates to 1.35 per cent of the globe’s oil consumption. Worse still, these plastic-based fibres are responsible for 73 percent of microfibers pollution in Arctic waters and, according to the Ellen MacArthur  Foundation, the plastic packaging on which the fashion industry is largely reliant, is estimated to make up 26 per cent of the total volume of plastics created each year – 72 percent of which is thrown away. However you choose to measure its impact, the numbers are staggering. We would like to open a call that acknowledges these very pressing issues that the fashion industry and academia is currently facing. We invite abstracts exploring the role of plastics within fashion and textiles, this could be:

Themes:

This conference panel will bring together scholarly experts and practitioners in the areas of plastic use, materiality and design to share their knowledge and experiences with fellow academics and practitioners. Scholarly, conceptual and practitioner papers are welcomed, especially those that address the proposed conference themes:

  • Fashion lifecycles vs plastic lifecycles
  • Alternatives to fossil fuel based plastics for fashion and textiles
  • Recycling of plastics
  • How can plastics fit within a sustainable future
  • Solutions to microfibre pollution from textiles
  • A transition to a circular economic environment
  • Single use plastic in fashion retail
  • Consumer intention behind recycled plastic waste product
Student wearing orange and white dress made from recycled materials

Garments made from recycled plastic waste by University of Portsmouth student by Amy Barnes

Evening 18.30 - 20.30: Drinks reception on the HMS Warrior


Wednesday 21st June

Session 3: The PISCES Programme

For this session, we will be joined by PISCES. The PISCES programme is a collaborative, inclusive partnership that brings academic researchers together with business, industry, governments, NGOs, and civil society to understand and manage the risks posed by plastic pollution. It does this by addressing key knowledge gaps that are critical to unlocking a sustainable future for plastics in Indonesian societies. PISCES aims to inform, complement, and catalyse national and global action programmes to solve the plastic challenge – providing evidence-based solutions and system-change interventions to support real change in government policies, industrial practices, and consumer behaviour.

A man stands at a beach front polluted with plastic bottles in Likoni, Mombasa.

Session 4: The Plastics That Made Us

Chair: Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan, Professor of Design History and Theory, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Portsmouth, UK

Guest speakers:

Short presentation on the Design History of Plastics followed by a panel discussion on ‘Care and Curation of Plastics’

Themes: 

  • The seen and unseen uses of plastics
  • Historical and contemporary cultural perceptions of plastics
  • Sustainability and the green consumer
  • Curatorial relationships with plastics
Red Panasonic Toot-a-loop novelty radio, Werksentwurf and Panasonic

Panasonic Toot-a-loop novelty radio, Werksentwurf and Panasonic, circa 1972. AIBDC : 007870. Museum of Design in Plastics, Arts University Bournemouth

Session 5: Participatory arts-based research methods - exploring lived experience and perceptions from the ground up

Chair: Dr Cressida Bowyer, Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of Revolution Plastics, University of Portsmouth, UK

Guest speaker: Nelmo Munyiri, Founder and Executive Director, Mukuru Youth Initiative, Nairobi, Kenya

Arts-based methods are increasingly being used in academic research to explore lived experience from a grassroots perspective. Artistic methods democratise the research process and disrupt traditional academic hierarchies, often revealing diverse values, and enhancing understanding. When communities collaborate with researchers to find solutions, the results are more local, targeted and contextually sensitive. 

This session will include past and present projects in the Global South, methodologies and workshops. 

Themes:

  • Community-based participatory research 
  • The range of arts based methods
  • Working in different contexts
  • Practical workshops
A group of people in South Africa painting a nearly finished mural of recyclable and non recyclable items on a wall. The mural uses lots of bright colour and is extremely eye catching

Evening from 18.00: Conference dinner


Thursday 22nd June

Session 6: The global treaty to end plastics pollution - opportunities for change

Panel discussion: Time is of the Essence – Negotiating a plastics treaty fit for purpose. Convened by: Environmental Investigation Agency

In March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) passed resolution 5/14 ‘End Plastic Pollution: Towards an International Legally Binding Instrument’, which marked out an ambitious two an a half year timeframe to negotiate a new global treaty regulating plastics across their lifecycles, which could fundamentally change the way the world produces, uses and discards of plastics.

This panel, convened by EIA, a civil society organisation who has been involved in the process since the beginning, will bring together a broad range of speakers with different topical and sectoral expertise for a lively and open discussion with the audience on the key issues at hand.

Roundtable discussion: How can the treaty serve as a platform for system change

Chair: Professor Steve Fletcher, Director of the Global Plastics Policy Centre, University of Portsmouth, UK

Guest speakers: 

Following on from the landmark resolution reached at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya last year to develop an international legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution, this session will focus on the progress and ambitions of the UN Treaty. What have we learnt from the process so far?  What are the challenges and how can these challenges be addressed?  What does a successful treaty look like? How can reuse systems help address plastic pollution?

This session will include short talks, and poster presentations

Themes:

  • Where are we after INC-2 (Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee session)?
  • How can we build a ‘just’ transition into the treaty?
  • Transparency and disclosure issues in policy development 
  • Reuse as an effective policy option 
  • Stakeholder perspectives
Marabou stock standing on a heap of trash at Gioto Dumpsite in Nakuru

Photo by James Wakibia

Workshops:

(scheduling to be confirmed)

Microplastics in air, water and land

A chance to workshop the links between microplastics in air, water and land and to identify the knowledge gaps in their transport and modelling. We will explore how microplastics fit in current policy, possible future policy and the global plastics treaty. Led by Dr Fay Couceiro and Dr Ben Williams. 

Verbatim theatre

How can we use verbatim theatre to explore the complexities of tackling the plastics problem? Verbatim is a type of documentary theatre using the words of real people. These words might be taken from interviews, testimonials, or news reports. This practical workshop will utilise interview content obtained from conference attendees to develop a performance piece for day three. You can participate as an interviewee or as an actor. Led by Dr Erika Hughes and Matthew Hahn.

Participatory arts-based methods

This workshop will explore methodologies including visual arts, music, creative writing and Community Voice Method. Become a research participant and gain a deeper understanding of these techniques. With Dr Cressida Bowyer, Dr Louis Netter, Dr Victoria Leslie and others.

The Global Plastic Policy Centre: Global Policy Review

The Global Policy Review is a bank of over 100 independently reviewed plastics policies and initiatives. This workshop will discuss the policy analysis framework and demonstrate how the online open access database can be used to research information on policy effectiveness and the barriers to plastic policy success. Led by Antaya March.

Refashioning Plastics

Come along to this workshop and create a fashion item from plastic waste. Led by Amy Barnes. 

Pop-Up Exhibition

We invite conference attendees to bring in iconic, unusual or everyday plastic artefacts and help us to create a pop-up plastics exhibition. Museum curators will be on hand to discuss exhibits and how they can inform our knowledge and understanding of the role of plastics in society. With Dr Louise Dennis

Cambridge Prisms journal: Innovative and Creative Solutions to Plastic Pollution

Come along to a lunchtime session and find out more about the newly announced special issue of Cambridge Prisms: Plastic, Innovative and Creative Solutions to Plastic Pollution, being published in association with the PlasticsFuture 2023 conference, edited by Professor Steve Fletcher and Dr Cressida Bower.

The special issue invites papers that share new approaches to confronting plastic pollution across disciplines, sectors, and communities. Particularly encouraged are papers that explore innovative and creative ideas that provide new insights into tackling plastic pollution. Papers and authors are welcome from anywhere in the world. Given the current process of developing a global treaty to end plastic pollution, the need to explore innovative and creative options to confront plastic pollution has never been more pressing.

Submission Deadline: 30th September 2023

This special collection welcomes articles covering but not restricted to the following themes:

  • The use of creative methods to tackle the causes and effects of plastic pollution
  • New policy, legal, governance or institutional approaches
  • New ways of engaging citizens in the fight against plastic pollution
  • The use of arts-based methods for participatory and grassroots research
  • The history and heritage of plastics
  • Insight from lesser-heard voices
  • Activism: the role of media, civil society, scientists, and individuals in tackling plastic pollution
Call for papers for the Innovative and Creative Solutions to Plastic Pollution

Exhibitions, performances, screenings and installations

  • Screening room showing short films, feature films and digital research outputs
  • Octopuses & Other Sea Creatures durational installation
  • Plastics fashion exhibition, including items from the University of Portsmouth’s PO1 Sustainable Fashion and Textiles collection
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Augmented reality microplastics app
  • Plastics Monster promenade performance

We are welcoming submissions for contributions to short talks, exhibitions, film screenings, and performances

model posing in clothes designed by Scarlett Mitchell1

Follow us on Twitter

@UoPPlastics
#RevolutionPlastics

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