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Plastics are present in a wide range of products in modern society, and plastic waste pollution in the ocean and the wider environment has become a global problem. Researchers from multiple different departments and faculties across Imperial College London are lookng for solutions across the entire life cycle of plastics. One of the lead investigtors is IMSE Affiliate Professor Maria Charalambides, Professor of the Mechanics in the Departmenet of Materials. Her research looks at resource preservation, and waste prevention reduce the impact of plastic on the environment.

Our work towards eliminating plastic waste is extremely important for the environment. Though our work, we will deliver a technical, socio-economic and policy roadmap for how the UK can prevent waste plastics from entering the ecosystem."

Maria Charalambides

IMSE Affiliate and Professor of the Mechanics of Materials

It’s clear that single-use plastics made from fossil resources are unsustainable, so Maria and her team work with new technologies and renewable resources to develop plastic materials that are biodegradable and easier to recycle, while also encouraging reuse through new product designs. Waste prevention is the other main focus of the programme, tackling the challenges around the end-of-life of plastic materials. Taking a consumer and policy-oriented approach, researchers will study how to increase recycling rates and maximize the length of time plastic remains in the live economy, colloborating with such major companies such as Nestlé, PepsiCo, Sainbury’s and Johnson Matthey.

Maria and her team started working on the project in summer 2019. They have made great headway in understanding what the priorities of her industrial partners are. The team includes Imperial Colleagues in seven different Departments (Chemical Engineering, Aeronautics, Mechanical Engineering, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Centre for Environmental Policy, Materials, Chemistry) to devise possible solutions and collaborative research towards eliminating plastic waste.