This event took place on 29 June 2021.
Fishing nets and other gear account for a significant proportion of plastic pollution in the marine environment, causing harm to habitats and organisms and breaking down into smaller particles until becoming microplastics. Fishing is heavily relied upon for global food production, so how can we meet current demands for consumption while preventing harm to our oceans from fishing gear?
Stakeholders from around the value chain are working to accelerate away from wasteful linear Take:Make:Dispose systems, instead moving towards a circular system where we design out waste, keep materials in use for as long as possible and regenerate natural systems.
By substituting polymers that are difficult to circulate for novel bio-materials and managing end-of-life marine plastics, we keep them out of our marine environment and retain the material value within the economy. Clean-up groups, recyclers, innovators, industry, researchers and academics are driving the change that our ecological crisis demands.
We were delighted to welcome Nigel Topping, COP26 High Level Climate Action Champion where he shared his insights and perspectives of the circular economy in the context of the Race to Zero agenda for COP26.
This event also provided the opportunity to hear from our internationally recognised experts at the University of Plymouth on four multi-million pound Interreg projects, looking into different aspects of circular marine plastics: Preventing Plastic Pollution; SeaBioComp; INdIGO and CircularSeas.
Our International Marine Litter Research Unit has world-leading expertise that has furthered the understanding of the sources and impacts of litter on the environment and society, with a focus on identifying the necessary pathways to meaningful solutions.
This is complemented by our decades of work in the Materials and Structures Research Group spanning composites and structures in applications covering sustainable energy, the marine environment and medical technology.
We invited attendees to:
- connect with the Race to Zero agenda of COP26 and the role of circular economy practitioners,
- view the whole system of material flows for marine plastics through the lens of the product journey map,
- learn about new research breakthroughs in creating a circular economy of marine plastics and biomaterials, and
- help foster collaboration and best practice.
Who was this event for?
This event was most relevant to those with an interest in sectors related to fishing; port and local authorities; manufacturing; waste management; recycling; sustainability; design engineering; biomaterials; plastics; NGOs and charities involved in beach cleans. It may also have been of interest to innovative companies and entrepreneurs interested in using discarded and lost fishing gear and other plastics to create new products.