Replace, remove, reduce, reuse, recycle? The contestations of plastics and packaging.
David Attenborough in Blue Planet II did what many polymer scientists in my field have been trying to do for years: Convince the public and government that the challenges of plastic waste are real and need to be fixed. But is this as simple as doing away with single use plastic? This talk will explore the complex nature of our plastic environment, the interdependency of plastics on our goals for lowering our carbon footprint and increasing our expected lifespan, while also showcasing our own work on how polymer chemistry has the opportunity to shape a new sustainable future by developing interdisciplinary solutions that work for all actors.
We will explore systemic approaches to improving sustainable fates, from reuse to recycling (we work across enzymatic, chemical and mechanical recycling) and the opportunities and risks of new monomers for degradable polymers.
Director of Sustainable Futures, Director of Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub, and Professor of Polymer Science at the University of Manchester,Professor Michael Shaver, FRSC, is currently Professor of Polymer Science at the University of Manchester in the School of Materials. Following a PhD in his native Canada from the University of British Columbia and an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Imperial College London, he began his independent research career at the University of Prince Edward Island (don’t worry, no one’s heard of it) before being recruited to Scotland in 2012. He leads the Green Materials Laboratory on the development of biodegradable materials as a complement to petroleum-derived plastics, accessing renewable, degradable and non-toxic materials for biomedical, materials and commodity plastics applications. His work ranges from fundamental projects rooted in monomer design to working with key industrial partners in medical diagnostics, water purification and composites (e.g. Samsung, GSK, Industrial Chemicals, Superglass) to develop sustainable and functional materials. He was the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Green Materials (2012-2017) before his current role as Editor of the European Polymer Journal (2018). He has been recognised with >60 invited/plenary lectures, the MacroGroup Young Polymer Scientist award (2015), Young Academy of Scotland (2014-2018), Fellowship in the Royal Society of Chemistry (2018), Chancellor’s Fellowship (2012-2017), and two Canada Foundation for Innovation Leadership Awards (2010, 2012).