UCD Earth Institute (based in University College Dublin) are delighted to announce this seminar by Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS, followed by a panel discussion capturing a range of perspectives on plastics from Earth Institute members and associate members.
Richard is one of the world's leading experts on marine pollution and will address solutions to the global environmental challenge of marine litter.
Marine litter: are there solutions to this global environmental challenge?
Plastic debris is widely distributed at the sea surface, on the sea bed and on shorelines. Nearly 700 species are known to encounter marine litter, with many reports of physical harm resulting from entanglement in and ingestion of plastic. At the same time it is very clear that plastic items bring many societal benefits. Can these benefits be achieved without emissions of waste to the environment? Progress requires systemic changes in the way we produce, use and dispose of plastic. A key solution to two major environmental problems, our non-sustainable use of fossil carbon (to produce plastics) and the accumulation waste, lie in recycling end-of-life plastics into new products.
Richard is a world-leading marine scientist and is at the forefront of pioneering research into the causes and effects of marine litter. He founded and heads the University’s International Marine Litter Research Unit, which has charted the global distribution of microplastics from Arctic sea ice to the deep seas. In 2004, he published the first paper describing the long-term accumulation of microscopic fragments of plastic in the environment, naming them ‘microplastics’. He and his team have been at the forefront of microplastics research and have shown their global distribution, the potential for transfer from the gut to the circulatory system, and their role in the transport of chemical contaminants. This pioneering early work was pivotal in recognition of microplastic contamination in policy, such as Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Richard has an extensive track record of collaboration across the disciplines, with an emphasis on identifying ways to use plastics more sustainably. His recent work has guided policy on the release of microplastics from cosmetic products and textiles. His wider research focuses on the ecology of shallow water habitats, including artificial structures. He received the Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation in 2017, an OBE for services to marine science in 2018 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2020.
In 2019, the University was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for the pioneering research of Richard and his colleagues on marine microplastics pollution and its impact on the environment and changing behaviour.DISCUSSION PANEL
- Chair: Professor Tasman Crowe, UCD Earth Institute
- Dr Noreen O’Meara, School of Law, University of Surrey
- Dr Treasa De Loughry, UCD School of English, Drama and Film
- Associate Professor Tancredi Caruso, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science
This event is open to all and will be delivered by Zoom. Visit the Eventbrite webpage for further information and to register your place.