Working with industry to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment

Our reliance on plastics in textiles and packaging across industries makes life without plastics unthinkable.

At the International Marine Litter Research Unit, we believe that society can benefit from plastics in a way that greatly reduces environmental impact.

The dramatic increase of plastic waste in managed systems and the natural environment – especially the ocean – has triggered widespread demand for change among the public, policy-makers and industry.

We aim to meet the demand and facilitate collaborative opportunities for businesses, funding agencies and policy-makers to inform and shape solutions for textiles and packaging to reduce the impact of plastic waste to the environment.

What do we provide?

  • Consultancy – reviewing and advising on products, services and processes
  • Product testing and analysis 
  • Industrially or publicly funded collaboration
  • Research and development support
  • Access to cutting-edge facilities
  • Access to wider University business support such as funded opportunities and networks


Collaborate with us

To find out more about how we can support you, please contact Kevin Forshaw, Director of Industrial and Strategic Partnerships (Faculty of Science and Engineering) or Dr Winnie Courtene-Jones, Research Fellow (International Marine Litter Research Unit).

kevin.forshaw@plymouth.ac.uk

winnie.courtene-jones@plymouth.ac.uk

 


Custom-built cleanroom facility

This restricted access, three-tiered controlled environment boasts positive pressure airflow, filtered down to 0.5µm. This allows sensitive analysis to be undertaken in an environment subject to minimal contamination, maintaining the integrity of the samples and products being analysed.

The laboratory itself is well equipped with the apparatus and instruments necessary to sample, identify, and quantify plastics such as vacuum filtration units, a laminar flow hood, and microscopes. There are also a number of other instruments at the university accessible to us when required including ICPMS (Inductively coupled plasms mass spectrometry) and XRF (X-ray fluorescence).

<p>Pressure guage</p>
<p>Working in the Marine Litter Unit clean room</p>
 


Fully automated FTIR
(Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy)

An instrument vital in polymer identification, allowing for rapid sample assessment. It additionally logs images of each sample, so individual fragments and fibres can be referred to retrospectively.

Academics from collaborating scientific institutions have previously enabled access to a greater array of specialist instruments including GCMS (pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry), and Raman spectroscopy.

<p>

</p><p>International Marine Litter Research Unit facilities</p><p></p>
<p>

International Marine Litter Research Unit facilities

<br></p>
<p>Marine Litter Unit</p>
 


Textile Emission Laboratory

A specialist lab space dedicated to researching the contribution of textiles microfibre emissions, leading research on factors such as weave, material type, and laundering conditions can influence fibre shedding from textiles, undertaken in domestic washing machines. We are also able to assess the effectiveness of different mechanisms designed to capture synthetic fibres during laundering reducing their release in effluent.

We have tested products already on the market, and products in earlier stages of their development providing evidence as to their performance and informing product design.

<p>Textile Emission Laboratory Facilities</p>
<p>

Textile Emission Laboratory facilities

<br></p>
<p>Some of the Marine Litter Unit researchers</p>