Policy impact
The International Marine Litter Research Unit first published a paper on microplastics in 2004. For almost two decades, their research on the environmental impact of plastics in the ocean has taken the discoveries from the deepest oceans to the highest mountain peaks. 
The team are now focussed on driving a solutions-based approach to marine litter, starting with the design stage of plastics. Their work continues to influence both national and international policy, most recently with terrestrial borne litter in the marine environment. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), October 2021. 

Research Excellence Framework 2021

The University of Plymouth achieved excellent results in the REF 2021 submissions. The ground-breaking work of the International Marine Litter Research Unit  (IMLRU) has become the epitome of impact-led, socially engaged research. The team has been pioneering in their work to identify the issue of microplastics and marine litter, reveal its true global scale, and influence policy in key areas to tackle it.  

<p>School of tropical fish swimming near a coral reef<br></p>
<p><i></i>Volvo Environment Prize 2022 Laureates. From Left to right; Professor Penelope Lindeque, Plymouth Marine Laboratory; Professor Richard Thompson, University of Plymouth and Professor Tamara Galloway, Exeter University</p><p>


Volvo Environment Prize 2022 awarded for world-leading microplastics research

For two decades Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS, Professor Tamara Galloway OBE (University of Exeter) and Professor Penelope Lindeque (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) have worked to discover the global extent of microplastics in our oceans and their impact on the environment and our food chains. They have also looked into potential solutions to this international problem.
Their continued collaboration and research has helped to bring about changes in global policy, influencing the United Nations Treaty on Plastic Pollution, signed by 175 nations earlier this year.