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Making Plastics Fantastic (again)

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  • UserProfessor James Elliott and Dr Jonathan Cullen
  • ClockThursday 04 February 2021, 18:00-19:00
  • HouseZoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Nicola Jones.

Plastics are one of the defining materials of our age, from clothing and packaging to vehicles and construction, and it would be hard to imagine modern living without them. However, the insatiable growth in their use together with the problems of disposal have made the “Plastics” word awkward to bring up in polite society.

In this talk, Professor James Elliott and Dr Jonathan Cullen will outline their plan to rehabilitate the reputation of plastics, and address some of the major problems related to their production and recovery after use. Jonathan will start by introducing the issues in global petrochemical supply chain for fossil-derived plastics and mapping of their flow through the economy, and James will then describe a new project for making Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging from Plants which aims to supplant the widespread use of fossil-derived plastics with materials made from naturally derived sources, such as wood (cellulose) and plants (sugars). These materials will degrade more easily in the natural environment, and result in no additional carbon being returned to the biosphere. By assessing the impact of switching to cellulose and plant-derived sugars, and making better use of waste products from food and forestry industries, we will explore the trade-offs between the benefits of plastic packaging and the impacts of its production and disposal.

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