Addressing the global plastics crisis
Supporting the transition to a sustainable plastics economy
Photo by James Wakibia
We’re on a mission to tackle the plastics crisis for our local community and the wider world.
Committed to facing global plastics problems, Revolution Plastics is an interdisciplinary initiative drawing together colleagues from across the University of Portsmouth and assembling teams of researchers, business-leaders, campaigners and citizens who share our commitment and ambition to transform the way we make, use and dispose of the polluting material, plastic
From developing sustainable fashion, to combatting microplastics, we’re putting our research into practice, and addressing plastics pollution; generating a globally-relevant community of plastics researchers and contributing to the sustainable transition of the city of Portsmouth as a prototype and showcase for 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.
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Revolution Plastics: End Plastic Pollution
Dr Noorin Khamisani I think that's 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 a chemical crisis, biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis.
Esrat Karim It's been estimated that by 2025 there will be more plastics than the fish in the ocean.
Prof Steve Fletcher Revolution Plastics is the University of Portsmouth's mission-driven research agenda to tackle the negative effects of plastic pollution across the entire plastics lifecycle.
On-screen Text: We’re on a mission to tackle the plastics crisis for our local community and the wider world.
Dr Fay Cauceiro 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.
On-screen text: From developing sustainable fashion, to combatting microplastics, were putting our research into practice and addressing plastics pollution.
Prof Steve Fletcher Our job is researchers is to build that evidence base and to bring that evidence base to people whose decisions really make a difference in the plastics economy.
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 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 misocosm of what's going on around the UK and what's going on around the globe.
Prof Steve Fletcher We try and use Portsmouth as a kind of living lab to test out ideas and test out policy options to try and tackle plastic pollution locally, and hopefully we can then take those solutions and apply them to other places and scale them up.
Dr Fay Cauceiro 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 What we're trying to achieve here is to bring people on the journey with us. Whether you're in government, in the private sector, in a campaign group or a member of the public, we all have a role to play in tackling plastic pollution through our Revolution plastics initiative.
Prof Alex Ford 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, after ten years. We need that action right now.
On-screen text: Revolution Plastics. Inspiring and creating new solutions to end plastic pollution.
Your Time. Your Place. University of Portsmouth.
Exploring the development and outcomes of the global plastics treaty
This PhD research will contribute to a deeper understanding of the complexities of international treaty negotiations and the potential impact of the plastic pollution treaty on global efforts to address this critical environmental issue.
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
Addressing the plastic crisis
We use plastic in almost every area of our lives - as packaging, in electronics, clothing and building materials. Plastic is inexpensive and easy to make, it’s unmatched in its cost-effective durability and resistance to degradation.
But the durability that makes plastic so versatile and appealing has created a global plastic crisis. Some plastics take more than 400 years to break down, and around 11 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year.
Half of all plastic becomes waste within a year of being made, yet most isn’t recycled. Our planet is suffocating in plastic, we need radical action to halt this trend and limit the damaging consequences of plastic pollution on our health, and on the environment.
We’ve got to find and create solutions to the world’s plastic problem. This is where Revolution Plastics comes in.
Revolution Plastics 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.
We’re assembling teams of researchers, business-leaders, campaigners and citizens who share our ambition to transform the way we make, use and dispose of this polluting material.
We've signed up to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. We're a member of their Network and the University of Portsmouth is profiled in their Higher Education Network of Universities.
Our revolution addresses damaging environmental and health impacts arising from plastics, through:
- Transforming the potential of plastic recycling and reuse
- Engineering enzymes to break down plastics faster
- Analysing plastics policy worldwide and advocating for binding commitments under international law
- Developing new sustainable materials
- Collaborating with communities in the global south to reduce plastic pollution
- Furthering the world's understanding of how microplastics affect us all
Our multidisciplinary approach to plastics research
Revolution Plastics spans all disciplines, finding and creating ways for society, the economy and politics to adapt in order to achieve sustainability.
We’re already making progress. We've examined the effectiveness of global plastic policies, been at the heart of global conversations about the world’s plastic crisis, helped to shape a global agreement on plastic pollution, and looked at how food and drink suppliers develop packaging.
We are studying how microplastics affect our oceans, economy and the air we breathe. We are utilising arts-based participatory methods to research plastic pollution impacts and solutions'. And we’re aiming to develop a sustainable fashion and textiles social enterprise.
Explore a selection of our plastics research features.
The sustainability challenge of a plastic-wrapped world
Policy push for plastics action is needed
Using creative methods to tackle environmental problems
Microplastics in our homes
The plastic-eating enzyme that could help overcome plastic pollution
Revolution Plastics builds on the momentum of our globally-acclaimed plastics research in developing a plastic-dissolving enzyme that can digest some of the most polluting plastics. Our plastics research has made national and international news, and is supported by our Centre for Enzyme Innovation, which works with industry partners to advance the circular recycling of plastics.
In November 2021, we launched our Global Plastics Policy Centre — designed to give governments and industry groups the evidence needed to make better decisions on plastic policies. The Centre is the first of its kind and will provide a central point for information, effectiveness and barriers to plastics policy success.
Global Plastics Policy Centre
The Global Plastics Policy Centre is helping to find sustainable solutions to tackle plastic pollution around the world.
Centre for Enzyme Innovation
At the Centre for Enzyme Innovation, we are working to solve one of the most pressing environmental issues facing our planet.
Microplastics research group
The University of Portsmouth is researching the impact of microplastics on human health and the environment, and finding innovative solutions to plastic pollution.
Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Research Group
Working to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing by developing engineering solutions that are smarter, cleaner and sustainable.
Revolution Plastics shortlisted for Environmental Leadership Award
Portsmouth shortlisted at the ‘Oscars of higher education’
Empowering care leavers through art
Using art and song to help tackle South Africa’s plastic waste crisis
Podcast series celebrates 100th episode with special look at plastics crisis
INC-2: How close are we to a global plastics treaty? Featuring Professor Steve Fletcher and Antaya March
Plastic recycling is failing – here’s how the world must respond
Why enzymes are the latest fashion in the fight against plastic waste in our clothes
Biodegradable plastic in clothing doesn’t break down nearly as quickly as hoped – new research
Single-use plastic bans: research shows three ways to make them effective
Revolution Plastics leads
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Professor Fay Couceiro
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Dr Keiron Roberts
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Professor Joanne Preston
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Professor Andrew Pickford
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Miss Antaya March
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