While we normally try and discourage science chat in our group pub trips, this was an exception. In the first RE3 public engagement event of 2020, Mike represented the GML and Henry Royce Institute as one of a team of experts discussing the challenges of ending our plastic waste problem in the UK.
Mark Miodownik , Claudia Henninger and Helen Holmes completed the panel to give a broad perspective on the many issues that need to be overcome to end our plastic waste problem. Interrogated by an enthusiastic Mancunian audience, multiple aspects were discussed ranging from the false saviour of biodegradables to changing the behaviour of the fashion industry.
Much has been made of becoming plastic-free as an end-all solution to our waste problem and its negative impacts on the environment. However, as was stressed both at the event and in a recent BBC article, we need systems that prioritise the environmental impact of buying….not one that simply reduces plastic, which often remains the best material for the job.
While this valuable insight certainly highlighted the sheer size of the problem facing us as a society, it is encouraging that the public took such an interest in how best to move forward. Engagement events like these are vital to eradicate confusion around what can be done with our waste and to build public pressure to push ideas forward.