Photo by James Wakibia

Working globally to end plastic pollution

Supporting the transition to a sustainable plastics economy

Photo by James Wakibia

We’re on a mission to tackle the plastics crisis. 

Radical action is needed to stop the damaging impacts of plastic pollution on health and the environment. Our researchers are helping to build a world that’s more sustainable — a globe-spanning plastics economy based on circular principles. There’s no time to waste.

We’re analysing plastics policy worldwide. Collaborating with communities locally and in the global south to reduce plastic pollution. Engineering enzymes to break down plastic faster. Developing new, sustainable materials. Working to transform the potential of plastic recycling and reuse. And furthering the world’s understanding of how microplastics affect us all.

 

Ready to join the revolution?

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Revolution Plastics Institute Logo

Introducing the Revolution Plastics Institute

Revolution Plastics Institute

 

Dr Noorin Khamisani

I think that what's really sad is that the state of our planet right now is that it is drowning under the plastic waste.

 

Dr Cressida Bowyer

Whether it's macroplastics, microplastics or nanoplastics, we now find these plastics everywhere on the planet.

 

Prof Steve Fletcher

From the top of the tallest mountain to the bottom of the deepest ocean.

 

Prof Alex Ford

We're seeing it washing up on our shores all around us as we speak.

 

Dr Cressida Bowyer

We also find them in our bodies.

 

Dr Noorin Khamisani

It's out of control.

 

Dr Cressida Bowyer

The environmental and ecological challenges we're facing are that plastics are interfering with healthy functioning of ecosystems.

 

Prof Alex Ford

We have got a chemical crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis.

 

Prof Steve Fletcher

The Revolution Plastics Institute has a really strong mission driven research agenda to tackle the negative effects of plastic pollution across the entire plastics lifecycle.

 

Prof Fay Conceiro

Collaboration within our group in the University of Portsmouth is absolutely essential to finding how to deal with the problem of plastics.

 

Prof Alex Ford

We need to be able to live sustainably. And to do that, you need to have those people that understand the different components of how society works.

 

Prof Steve Fletcher

We can have all the scientific and economic and social evidence we need, but ultimately it's about changing policy to actually make a difference.

 

Hugo Lynch

Industry is not aware about what the chemical composition of their plastics is, what happens when it breaks down and what the effect of that is when it's made into something else. Researchers leading the direction in terms of gathering knowledge and sharing recommendations is the only way we're going to move the dial.

 

Noga Levy-Rapoport

The research has an incredibly important role to offer. We know that political education, when packaged publicly in an accessible way, can totally transform the way that people envision a sustainable future. 

 

Dr Cressida Bowyer

Portsmouth as a case study site is a very interesting place because it's an island city.

 

Prof Alex Ford

It is a mesocosm of what's going on around the UK and what's going on around the globe.

 

Prof Steve Fletcher

Portsmouth is the perfect place to host the Revolution Plastics Institute because Portsmouth as a city exhibits all of the challenges we face when trying to tackle the global plastics crisis.

So we can test out solutions and ideas here that we can apply elsewhere and hopefully scale up to make a real difference.

 

Prof Fay Conceiro

If you have hundreds, thousands of people collecting data, you can really build up a good picture of what's happening in our environment.

 

Prof Steve Fletcher

The goal of the Revolution Plastics Institute is to bring people with us on a journey, whether you're in government. in the private sector, in a campaign group or a member of the public. We've all got a role to play in tackling the global plastics crisis, and that's what our institute will do.

 

Prof Andy Pickford

We are accumulating vast amounts of plastic waste.

 

Nigel Salter

We've produced more plastic in the last ten years than in the previous 100 years. We're currently producing 400 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. That's set to double by 2040. And of that plastic waste, only 9% is being recycled.

 

Dr Noorin Khamisani

We need to be challenging the status quo and we need to transform the way that we work with plastics.

 

Noga Levy-Rapoport

Our plastic waste is an enormous symptom of our addiction to fossil fuels. This has resulted in a very difficult state for our planet, but crucially, it's resulted in a lot of people feeling like they can't see a way out, a way to live without plastic.

 

Dr Cressida Bowyer

The abnormal has become completely normal, and people can't actually remember a time when these plastic mountains weren't present.

 

Nelmo Munyiri

It’s very important that everyone takes action right now, and not tomorrow and not the day after. Not after a year, or after ten years. We need that action right now.

 

Our mission

The Revolution Plastics Institute is putting research into practice, addressing plastics pollution and generating a globally-relevant community of plastics researchers.

The primary purpose of the Institute is to urgently confront the global plastics crisis through inclusive, solutions-focused research and innovation to support the transition to a sustainable plastics future. We see a critical space for the University as an independent, objective evidence provider at the interface of government, businesses, citizens, and researchers.

Our multidisciplinary approach to plastics research

The projects we’re working on span across all disciplines combining creativity, research and innovation to address the impact of plastic and achieve sustainability across all aspects of society, politics and the economy.

We’re already making progress. We’ve engineered an enzyme that can break down one of the most polluting plastics; worked with communities in the global south to co-develop solutions to pollution; and studied how microplastics affect our oceans, economy and the air we breathe

Right now, we’re helping to shape a global agreement to end plastic pollution, examining the effectiveness of existing plastic policies, and working with national governments to support their action on plastic pollution.

High impact areas

Evaluating change across the plastics lifecycle

Lead: Professor Fay Couceiro

  • Identifying and analysing the shifting characteristics of the global plastics crisis.
  • Gathering data on the sources, pathways and impacts of plastic pollution.
  • Assessing the environmental, social and human health impacts of plastic pollution.

Socio-economic solutions to reduce plastic pollution

Lead: Antaya March

  • Evaluating and developing policy measures to reduce plastic pollution.
  • Using arts-based participatory methods to engage stakeholders and co-develop solutions. 
  • Assessing the policy, economic, social and cultural enablers for a sustainable plastics economy.

Innovation and technology for a sustainable plastics future

Lead: Professor Andy Pickford

  • Enhancing the role of innovation in addressing the global plastics crisis.
  • Pioneering enzymatic plastic recycling technologies.
  • Developing new technology, materials, business models, and methods to tackle and monitor plastic pollution.

 

Research centres and groups

Global Plastics Policy Centre

We're analysing plastic policies as they are developed around the world, giving governments and industry groups the evidence needed to make better decisions to manage plastics.
Large pile of plastic waste
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Centre for Enzyme Innovation

The Centre builds on the momentum of our globally-acclaimed research in developing a plastic-dissolving enzyme that can digest some of the most polluting plastics.
petri dish from centre for enzyme research
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Microplastics Research Group

We're researching the impact of microplastics on human health and the environment, and finding innovative solutions to plastic pollution.
Microplastics and synthetic fibres on a beach
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Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Research Group

We're working to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing by developing engineering solutions that are smarter, cleaner and sustainable.
Colourful plastic chairs at metal tables on street
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Research projects

Our work is making a difference. The projects we’re working on span across all disciplines combining creativity, research and innovation to address the impact of plastic and achieve sustainability across all aspects of society, the economy and politics

the completed bright mural in front of a bright blue sky

Masibambisane

This project uses street art, theatre and song and circular economy approaches to reduce open dumping and burning of waste and to increase plastic recycling in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Microplastics on a beach in Asia

Microbial transformation of plastics in SE Asian seas: a hazard and a solution (MicroSEAP)

The MicroSEAP project seeks to understand the impact plastic pollution has on marine ecosystems in South East Asia and find solutions to the problem

a discarded plastic bottle by the roadside

Mapping Portsmouth’s Plastic (MAPP)

The world’s first programme of city-wide plastic pollution surveys using a citizen science-based approach

Clear plastic water bottle under a body of water

Assessing pollution in Great Britain's coastal waters with GB Row

In collaboration with GB Row, we're undertaking a detailed survey of microplastics, e-DNA and noise pollution around Great Britain’s waters

Person holding a plastic bottle

Household Plastic use in Portsmouth

This Portsmouth based research project examines what influences people’s attitudes and behaviours towards plastic and what motivated or constrained their ability to reduce, reuse and recycle what they use

 

Flipflopi

Mitigating Plastic Pollution Through Heritage Boat Building

This project is establishing a boat building training centre to teach local boat builders and students how to design and construct recycled sailing vessels and other products combining indigenous knowledge with modern innovation

 

Interreg Plasticity logo

PlastiCity

We’re a partner in a project that’s repurposing ‘lost plastics’ and developing ways to increase urban recycling rates to over 50%

Interreg logo and FLOWER Project logo

FLOWER (Flax composites, LOW weight, End of life and Recycling)

This project aims to develop natural fibre composites that are environmentally-friendly, alternatives to glass fibre composites for the automotive, marine, and advertising sectors

 

Latest news and blogs from the Revolution Plastics Institute

News

Clean planet

University of Portsmouth to investigate presence and impact of microplastics in Arctic and Antarctica

23 May 2024

University of Portsmouth to investigate presence and impact of microplastics in Arctic and Antarctica
Juvenile Sulawesi macaque holding plastic © Teresa Romero

How much harm is plastic waste doing to macaques?

20 May 2024

How much harm is plastic waste doing to macaques?
Photo of Old Portsmouth as part of the SMMR project

New exhibition opens in Bristol - ‘Echoes of the Shore: New Horizons for Marine Research and Management’

14 May 2024

New exhibition opens in Bristol - ‘Echoes of the Shore: New Horizons for Marine Research and Management’
Cressida Bowyer presents at Demystifying Reuse event in Ottawa

Plastic experts urge world leaders to prioritise 'Reuse'

21 April 2024

Plastic experts urge world leaders to prioritise 'Reuse'
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Seven building blocks for a successful National Action Plan to address plastic pollution

17 April 2024

Seven building blocks for a successful National Action Plan to address plastic pollution

Blogs

Plastic pollution on a beach

A global plastics treaty is being negotiated in Ottawa this week – here’s the latest

Antaya March

A global plastics treaty is being negotiated in Ottawa this week – here’s the latest
Photo by James Wakibia

Revolution Plastics Institute attending the fourth negotiations for a Global Plastics Treaty in Ottawa

Revolution Plastics Institute attending the fourth negotiations for a Global Plastics Treaty in Ottawa
View in Antarctica taken by Dr Clare Boston

The plastic footprint of tourism in Antarctica

Fay Couceiro

The plastic footprint of tourism in Antarctica
A person sorting plastic waste © James Wakibia

West Africa’s plastic waste could be fuelling the economy instead of polluting the ocean: experts

West Africa’s plastic waste could be fuelling the economy instead of polluting the ocean: experts
Revolution Plastics team obtained these images for research.
YOU MUST CREDIT James Wakibia

New single-use plastic ban takes effect in England – here’s why its impact may be limited

New single-use plastic ban takes effect in England – here’s why its impact may be limited

 

Institute leadership

The Revolution Plastics Institute is led by Professor Steve Fletcher and Dr Cressida Bowyer. Our mission is guided by the expertise of our Advisory Council, composed of senior executives from organisations and sectors that play a role in plastics and sustainability. 

Stephen Fletcher Portrait

Professor Steve Fletcher

Theme Professor (Environment and Sustainability)

Steve.Fletcher@port.ac.uk

School of the Environment, Geography, and Geosciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Cressida Jane Bowyer Portrait

Media ready expert

Dr Cressida Bowyer

Associate Professor in Arts and Sustainability

cressida.bowyer@port.ac.uk

Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

PhD Supervisor

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Researchers

Fay Couceiro Portrait

Media ready expert

Professor Fay Couceiro

Professor of Environmental Pollution

Fay.Couceiro@port.ac.uk

School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Faculty of Technology

PhD Supervisor

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Antaya Lauren Alexandra March Portrait

Media ready expert

Miss Antaya March

Senior Research Associate

Antaya.March@port.ac.uk

School of the Environment, Geography, and Geosciences

Faculty of Business and Law

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Andrew Robert Pickford Portrait

Media ready expert

Professor Andrew Pickford

Professor of Molecular Biophysics

Andy.Pickford@port.ac.uk

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Keiron Philip Roberts Portrait

Media ready expert

Dr Keiron Roberts

Senior Lecturer

Keiron.Roberts@port.ac.uk

School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Faculty of Technology

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Joanne Preston Portrait

Media ready expert

Professor Joanne Preston

Professor of Marine Biology

joanne.preston@port.ac.uk

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Hom Nath Dhakal Portrait

Media ready expert

Professor Hom Dhakal

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Hom.Dhakal@port.ac.uk

School of Mechanical and Design Engineering

Faculty of Technology

PhD Supervisor

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Contact us

Revolution Plastics Institute
RB 1.10, Richmond Building
Portland St
Portsmouth
PO1 3DE

Email: revolutionplastics@port.ac.uk 

Telephone: +44 (0) 23 9284 6240

Interested journalists can contact the University's Media and Communications team.