Imperial College London

Professor Nick Voulvoulis

Faculty of Natural SciencesCentre for Environmental Policy

Professor of Environmental Technology
 
 
 
//

Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 7459n.voulvoulis Website

 
 
//

Location

 

103Weeks BuildingSouth Kensington Campus

//

Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

172 results found

Gomez-Gonzalez MA, Koronfel MA, Pullin H, Parker JE, Quinn PD, Inverno MD, Scott TB, Xie F, Voulvoulis N, Yallop ML, Ryan MP, Porter AEet al., 2021, Nanoscale chemical imaging of nanoparticles under real-world wastewater treatment conditions, Advanced Sustainable Systems, Vol: 5, ISSN: 2366-7486

Understanding nanomaterial transformations within wastewater treatment plants is an important step to better predict their potential impact on the environment. Here, spatially resolved, in situ nano-X-ray fluorescence microscopy is applied to directly observe nanometer-scale dissolution, morphological, and chemical evolution of individual and aggregated ZnO nanorods in complex “real-world” conditions: influent water and primary sludge collected from a municipal wastewater system. A complete transformation of isolated ZnO nanorods into ZnS occurs after only 1 hour in influent water, but larger aggregates of the ZnO nanorods transform only partially, with small contributions of ZnS and Zn-phosphate (Zn3(PO4)2) species, after 3 hours. Transformation of aggregates of the ZnO nanorods toward mixed ZnS, Zn adsorbed to Fe-oxyhydroxides, and a large contribution of Zn3(PO4)2 phases are observed during their incubation in primary sludge for 3 hours. Discrete, isolated ZnO regions are imaged with unprecedented spatial resolution, revealing their incipient transformation toward Zn3(PO4)2. Passivation by transformation(s) into mixtures of less soluble phases may influence the subsequent bioreactivity of these nanomaterials. This work emphasizes the importance of imaging the nanoscale chemistry of mixtures of nanoparticles in highly complex, heterogeneous semi-solid matrices for improved prediction of their impacts on treatment processes, and potential environmental toxicity following release.

Journal article

Souliotis I, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Incorporating ecosystem services in the assessment of water framework directive programmes of measures, Environmental Management (New York): an international journal for decision-makers, scientists and environmental auditors, Vol: 68, Pages: 38-52, ISSN: 0364-152X

The EU Water Framework Directive requires the development of management responses aimed towards improving water quality as a result of improving ecosystem health (system state). Ecosystems have potential to supply a range of services that are of fundamental importance to human well-being, health, livelihoods and survival, and their capacity to supply these services depends on the ecosystem condition (its structure and processes). According to the WFD, Programmes of Measures should be developed to improve overall water status by reducing anthropogenic catchment pressures to levels compatible with the achievement of the ecological objectives of the directive, and when designed and implemented properly should improve the ecological condition of aquatic ecosystems that the delivery of ecosystem services depends on. Monitoring and evaluation of implemented measures are crucial for assessing their effectiveness and creating the agenda for consecutive planning cycles. Considering the challenges of achieving water status improvements, and the difficulties of communicating these to the wider public, we develop a framework for the evaluation of measures cost-effectiveness that considers ecosystem services as the benefits from the reduction of pressures on water bodies. We demonstrate its application through a case study and discuss its potential to facilitate the economic analysis required by the directive, and that most European water authorities had problems with. Findings demonstrate the potential of the methodology to effectively incorporate ecosystem services in the assessment of costs and benefits of proposed actions, as well as its potential to engage stakeholders.

Journal article

Hunt C, Wilson HL, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Evaluating alternatives to plastic microbeads in cosmetics, Nature Sustainability, Vol: 4, Pages: 366-372, ISSN: 2398-9629

In our haste to ban or regulate unsustainable and environmentally damaging materials and chemicals, we may overlook dangers posed by their substitutes. In light of the scientific evidence regarding the fate, persistence and toxicity of microplastics in the marine environment, many countries have banned the sale of rinse-off cosmetics containing plastic microbeads to prevent their release to the environment. However, the wider lifetime environmental impacts of the potential substitutes have not up to now been considered, and care must be taken so that the environmental costs of using them do not potentially outweigh the benefit resulting from the bans. In this study, we use Life Cycle Assessment to compare the environmental performance of a wide range of potential alternatives. The study investigates the quantities of these materials required, and the human health and environmental impacts of their manufacture, transport and inclusion in cosmetics. We highlight that long-term environmental and human health effects of their disposal are unknown and are thus excluded from the Life Cycle Assessment. In support of the responsible replacement of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, we identify several alternatives that will perform better, as well as substitutes that could pose additional risks and have undesirable effects.

Journal article

Hunt CF, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Chemical Pollution of the Aquatic Environment and Health, Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, Vol: 2021-January, Pages: 39-69, ISSN: 1350-7583

The dramatic increases in industrialisation over the past three centuries have changed human exposures to both natural and synthetic chemicals. There is mounting unease about the risk to the environment and human health of synthetic chemicals, on top of the well-known risks associated with both naturally occurring and man-made chemicals when at high concentrations (e.g. poisoning from natural arsenic concentrations in groundwater in Bangladesh and mercury from industrial discharges in Minamata, Japan, respectively). Modern industrial chemicals can be persistent in the environment and bioaccumulate in wildlife, with trace concentrations released into the aquatic environment building up over time and polluting the food chain. Cocktails of these chemicals have unknown effects that even at very low levels may still have significant and widespread adverse environmental and human health consequences (e.g. cancer risk and impaired reproductive development) from chronic exposure. Most recently, microplastics and nanoparticles in the aquatic environment have been recognised as a threat, both directly and as vectors for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) adsorbed onto their surfaces. Although some progress has been made in managing risks to human health from exposure to aquatic chemical pollution, we must be ever aware of the changing nature of these threats.

Journal article

Hunt C, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Chemical Pollution of the Aquatic Environment and Health, Environmental Pollutant Exposures and Public Health, Editors: Harrison, Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry, Pages: 36-69, ISBN: 978-1-78801-895-1

The dramatic increases in industrialisation over the past three centuries have changed human exposures to both natural and synthetic chemicals. There is mounting unease about the risk to the environment and human health of synthetic chemicals, on top of the well-known risks associated with both naturally occurring and man-made chemicals when at high concentrations (e.g. poisoning from natural arsenic concentrations in groundwater in Bangladesh and mercury from industrial discharges in Minamata, Japan, respectively). Modern industrial chemicals can be persistent in the environment and bioaccumulate in wildlife, with trace concentrations released into the aquatic environment building up over time and polluting the food chain. Cocktails of these chemicals have unknown effects that even at very low levels may still have significant and widespread adverse environmental and human health consequences (e.g. cancer risk and impaired reproductive development) from chronic exposure. Most recently, microplastics and nanoparticles in the aquatic environment have been recognised as a threat, both directly and as vectors for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) adsorbed onto their surfaces. Although some progress has been made in managing risks to human health from exposure to aquatic chemical pollution, we must be ever aware of the changing nature of these threats.

Book chapter

Ruggero F, Porter AE, Voulvoulis N, Carretti E, Lotti T, Lubello C, Gori Ret al., 2020, A highly efficient multi-step methodology for the quantification of micro-(bio)plastics in sludge., Waste Management and Research, Vol: 39, Pages: 956-965, ISSN: 0734-242X

The present study develops a multi-step methodology for identification and quantification of microplastics and micro-bioplastics (together called in the current work micro-(bio)plastics) in sludge. In previous studies, different methods for the extraction of microplastics were devised for traditional plastics, while the current research tested the methodology on starch-based micro-bioplastics of 0.1-2 mm size. Compostable bioplastics are expected to enter the anaerobic or aerobic biological treatments that lead to end-products applicable in agriculture; some critical conditions of treatments (e.g. low temperature and moisture) can slow down the degradation process and be responsible for the presence of microplastics in the end-product. The methodology consists of an initial oxidation step, with hydrogen peroxide 35% concentrated to clear the sludge and remove the organic fraction, followed by a combination of flotation with sodium chloride and observation of the residues under a fluorescence microscope using a green filter. The workflow revealed an efficacy of removal from 94% to 100% and from 92% to 96% for plastic fragments, 0.5-2 mm and 0.1-0.5 mm size, respectively. The methodology was then applied to samples of food waste pulp harvested after a shredding pre-treatment in an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Italy, where polyethylene, starch-based Mater-Bi® and cellophane microplastics were recovered in amounts of 9 ± 1.3/10 g <2 mm and 4.8 ± 1.2/10 g ⩾2 mm. The study highlights the need to lower the threshold size for the quantification of plastics in organic fertilizers, which is currently set by legislations at 2 mm, by improving the background knowledge about the fate of the micro-(bio)plastics in biological treatments for the organic waste.

Journal article

Kioupi V, Voulvoulis N, 2020, Sustainable development goals (SDGs): assessing the contribution of higher education programmes, Sustainability, Vol: 12, Pages: 6701-6701, ISSN: 2071-1050

Universities are engines of societal transformation and can nurture future citizens and navigate them towards sustainability through their educational programmes. Here, we developed an assessment framework for educational institutions to evaluate the contribution of their educational programmes to sustainability by reviewing the alignment of their intended learning outcomes to the enabling conditions for a vision of sustainability based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The tool is based on a systemic grouping of the SDGs into eight sustainability attributes, namely, Safe Operating Space, Just Operating Space, Resilient Sustainable Behaviours, Alternative Economic Models, Health and Wellbeing, Collaboration, Diversity and Inclusion, and Transparency and Governance, and uses a word code developed specifically for each sustainability attribute to assess the coverage of the SDGs in master’s programmes’ learning outcomes. The tool uses multi-criteria analysis to compare and rank programmes according to the alignment of their learning outcomes to the sustainability attributes and their contribution to sustainability. It was first tested using data from a University’s eighteen master’s programmes on a range of subjects and subsequently applied to compare forty UK and European master’s programmes focusing on environment and sustainability. Findings demonstrate that even environmental programmes face some important gaps related to health, wellbeing, diversity, inclusion, and collaboration, amongst others, and reinforce the need for all universities to understand the contribution of their programmes to sustainability. The application of the tool can generate empirical evidence on the effectiveness of university programmes and establish a strong argument regarding the potential of education as a tool for achieving the SDGs.

Journal article

Mariano S, Panzarini E, Inverno MD, Voulvoulis N, Dini Let al., 2020, Toxicity, bioaccumulation and biotransformation of glucose-capped silver nanoparticles in green microalgae chlorella vulgaris, Nanomaterials, Vol: 10, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 2079-4991

Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are one of the most widely used nanomaterials in consumer products. When discharged into the aquatic environment AgNPs can cause toxicity to aquatic biota, through mechanisms that are still under debate, thus rendering the nanoparticles (NPs) effects evaluation a necessary step. Different aquatic organism models, i.e., microalgae, mussels, Daphnia magna, sea urchins and Danio rerio, etc. have been largely exploited for NPs toxicity assessment. On the other hand, alternative biological microorganisms abundantly present in nature, i.e., microalgae, are nowadays exploited as a potential sink for removal of toxic substances from the environment. Indeed, the green microalgae Chlorella vulgaris is one of the most used microorganisms for waste treatment. With the aim to verify the possible involvement of C. vulgaris not only as a model microorganism of NPs toxicity but also for the protection toward NPs pollution, we used these microalgae to measure the AgNPs biotoxicity and bioaccumulation. In particular, to exclude any toxicity derived by Ag+ ions release, green chemistry-synthesised and glucose-coated AgNPs (AgNPs-G) were used. C. vulgaris actively internalised AgNPs-G whose amount increases in a time- and dose-dependent manner. The internalised NPs, found inside large vacuoles, were not released back into the medium, even after 1 week, and did not undergo biotransformation since AgNPs-G maintained their crystalline nature. Biotoxicity of AgNPs-G causes an exposure time and AgNPs-G dose-dependent growth reduction and a decrease in chlorophyll-a amount. These results confirm C. vulgaris as a bioaccumulating microalgae for possible use in environmental protection.

Journal article

Kioupi V, Voulvoulis N, 2019, Education for sustainable development: A systemic framework for connecting the SDGs to educational outcomes, Sustainability, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-18, ISSN: 2071-1050

The UN 2030 agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisions a future of inclusive equity, justice and prosperity within environmental limits, and places an important emphasis on education as stated in Goal 4. Education is acknowledged as a means for achieving the remaining Goals, with sustainability as a goal for education in target 4.7. However, the interconnectedness of the SDGs and the complexity of sustainability as a concept make it difficult to relate the SDGs to educational learning outcomes, with what Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) aims to achieve, left in ambiguity. Using systems thinking, we developed a framework that redefines ESD as a tool that can deliver the transformation required for society to reach a sustainable state. Using the SDGs as end points for this state, and through a participatory approach, education stakeholders and learners work together to construct a common vision of sustainability, identify the competences needed, and develop appropriate pedagogies and learning strategies. The framework allows for the development of evaluation tools that can support educational institutions to monitor and manage their progress in transforming societies towards sustainability.

Journal article

Gomez-Gonzalez MA, Koronfel MA, Goode AE, Al-Ejji M, Voulvoulis N, Parker JE, Quinn PD, Scott TB, Xie F, Yallop ML, Porter AE, Ryan MPet al., 2019, Spatially resolved dissolution and speciation changes of ZnO nanorods during short-term in situ incubation in a simulated wastewater environment, ACS Nano, Vol: 13, Pages: 11049-11061, ISSN: 1936-0851

Zinc oxide engineered nanomaterials (ZnO ENMs) are used in a variety of applications worldwide due to their optoelectronic and antibacterial properties with potential contaminant risk to the environment following their disposal. One of the main potential pathways for ZnO nanomaterials to reach the environment is via urban wastewater treatment plants. So far there is no technique that can provide spatiotemporal nanoscale information about the rates and mechanisms by which the individual nanoparticles transform. Fundamental knowledge of how the surface chemistry of individual particles change, and the heterogeneity of transformations within the system, will reveal the critical physicochemical properties determining environmental damage and deactivation. We applied a methodology based on spatially resolved in situ X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM), allowing observation of real-time dissolution and morphological and chemical evolution of synthetic template-grown ZnO nanorods (∼725 nm length, ∼140 nm diameter). Core-shell ZnO-ZnS nanostructures were formed rapidly within 1 h, and significant amounts of ZnS species were generated, with a corresponding depletion of ZnO after 3 h. Diffuse nanoparticles of ZnS, Zn3(PO4)2, and Zn adsorbed to Fe-oxyhydroxides were also imaged in some nonsterically impeded regions after 3 h. The formation of diffuse nanoparticles was affected by ongoing ZnO dissolution (quantified by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) and the humic acid content in the simulated sludge. Complementary ex situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy confirmed a significant decrease in the ZnO contribution over time. Application of time-resolved XFM enables predictions about the rates at which ZnO nanomaterials transform during their first stages of the wastewater treatment process.

Journal article

Voulvoulis N, Zogheib C, 2019, Climate change and the human-made water cycle: Implications for the UK water sector, Climate change and the human-made water cycle: Implications for the UK water sector, www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham, Publisher: The Grantham Institute, Briefing paper number 32

Climate change is already happening, and the UK’s climate will continue to change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, with the long-term resilience of its infrastructure at risk.The water sector cannot adapt to the challenges of climate change in isolation, as policy effects in one sector will have indirect effects in others.Current demand pressures and reductions in abstraction licences – rights to draw water – are causing supply-demand deficits and this is coupled to the impacts of climate change. If no action is taken, the current high standards of service that is offered at a fair price, and without causing environmental damage, could soon be at risk.While impact on water flows might not yet be measurable, there is evidence to show that if water companies carry on with ‘business as usual’, we risk a future without enough water for people, business, farmers, wildlife and the environment.With water as the key medium that links atmospheric temperature rises to changes in human and physical systems, government, water companies and all the players in the wider sector need to play a more proactive role in accelerating the transition to a circular economy, while helping people, politicians and decision makers to understand and prepare for the risks of climate change.

Report

Hopkinson NS, Arnott D, Voulvoulis N, 2019, Environmental consequences of tobacco production and consumption (vol 394, pg 1007, 2019), LANCET, Vol: 394, Pages: 1324-1324, ISSN: 0140-6736

Journal article

Brack W, Ait-Aissa S, Backhaus T, Birk S, Barcelo D, Burgess R, Cousins I, Dulio V, Escher BI, Focks A, van Gils J, Ginebreda A, Hering D, Hewitt LM, Hilscherova K, Hollender J, Hollert H, Kock M, Kortenkamp A, Lopez de Alda M, Mueller C, Posthuma L, Schueuermann G, Schymanski E, Segner H, Sleeuwaert F, Slobodnik J, Teodorovic I, Umbuzeiro G, Voulvoulis N, van Wezel A, Altenburger Ret al., 2019, Strengthen the European collaborative environmental research to meet European policy goals for achieving a sustainable, non-toxic environment, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES EUROPE, Vol: 31, ISSN: 2190-4707

To meet the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals and the European Union (EU) strategy for a non-toxic environment, water resources and ecosystems management require cost-efficient solutions for prevailing complex contamination and multiple stressor exposures. For the protection of water resources under global change conditions, specific research needs for prediction, monitoring, assessment and abatement of multiple stressors emerge with respect to maintaining human needs, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Collaborative European research seems an ideal instrument to mobilize the required transdisciplinary scientific support and tackle the large-scale dimension and develop options required for implementation of European policies. Calls for research on minimizing society’s chemical footprints in the water–food–energy–security nexus are required. European research should be complemented with targeted national scientific funding to address specific transformation pathways and support the evaluation, demonstration and implementation of novel approaches on regional scales. The foreseeable pressure developments due to demographic, economic and climate changes require solution-oriented thinking, focusing on the assessment of sustainable abatement options and transformation pathways rather than on status evaluation. Stakeholder involvement is a key success factor in collaborative projects as it allows capturing added value, to address other levels of complexity, and find smarter solutions by synthesizing scientific evidence, integrating governance issues, and addressing transition pathways. This increases the chances of closing the value chain by implementing novel solutions. For the water quality topic, the interacting European collaborative projects SOLUTIONS, MARS and GLOBAQUA and the NORMAN network provide best practice examples for successful applied collaborative research including multi-stakeholder involvement. They provided inn

Journal article

Hopkinson NS, Arnott D, Voulvoulis N, 2019, Environmental consequences of tobacco production and consumption, The Lancet, Vol: 394, Pages: 1007-1008, ISSN: 0140-6736

Journal article

Voulvoulis N, Pavanelli DD, 2019, Habitat equivalency analysis, a framework for forensic cost evaluation of environmental damage, Ecosystem Services, Vol: 38, ISSN: 2212-0416

When environmental damage takes place, forensic experts investigate and undertake initial damage assessments. Determining damage costs can be challenging in terms of remedial action and of assigning monetary value to losses. We develop a Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA) framework to assess environmental damage costs and apply it to three case studies from the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest (BAR). Remediation costs have been used previously as proxies for valuing ecosystem services (ES). In this approach, interim losses, those ES not supplied till the damage is restored, are accounted as compensatory remediation costs, the costs of resource enhancement or creation that compensates for the loss in ES provision. We compared values derived here to those using an alternative valuation, based on a tropical forest’s average annual value (Int.$/ha/year), as described in the literature. Findings demonstrate the potential of the framework to account for interim losses, perpetual damages and the cost of remediation. Although the three study areas varied in the extent of damage and the remediation procedures, the damage cost per hectare was of the same order of magnitude and within a narrow range: 13,216; 28,024; and 19,681 (in 2017 Int.$/ha) for the Citrus; Sand Mining and Eucalyptus study areas respectively. The environmental damage costs per hectare appraised by the alternative valuation were higher and showed greater variation: 32,692; 139,389; and 38,260 (in 2017 Int.$/ha) respectively. The experimental data were shown to be within the range of theoretical results derived. As HEA valuation is solely based on ecosystem damage remediation principles, its application will provide a more robust platform for the evaluation of the total economic value of tropical forests, even in the early stages of damage assessments.

Journal article

Voulvoulis N, Burgman M, 2019, The contrasting roles of science and technology in environmental challenges, Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, Vol: 49, Pages: 1079-1106, ISSN: 1064-3389

Sustainable development is widely recognised as an existential challenge. To address it, humanity needs to change its ways. However, people seem slow to act, not always understanding and often denying environmental imperatives, creating substantial social and psychological barriers. Social inertia and denial have been allegedly amplified by a public discourse increasingly distrustful of science. But is this discourse a rejection of science or an erosion of trust in how science is applied? The paper examines the main differences between environmental science and technology, reviews how the wider science- technology convergence has affected them and evaluates potential implications for sustainability challenges. We question whether the ‘convergence’ between environmental science and technology, could be behind the growing public dissatisfaction and distrust of environmental science and policies. Although environmental science plays a role in enabling understanding and communicating complexity, technology requires political, social and economic skills, beyond conventional disciplinary expertise. To avoid putting academic freedom at risk, environmental technologists, a new breed of professionals, should have a clear understanding of scientific capacity and uncertainty and be able to engage with stakeholders, policy makers and the public to design integrated, interdisciplinary and holistic solutions, and also better define the many environmental problems we face.

Journal article

Giakoumis T, Voulvoulis N, 2019, Water Framework Directive programmes of measures: Lessons from the 1st planning cycle of a catchment in England, Science of The Total Environment, Vol: 668, Pages: 903-916, ISSN: 0048-9697

The European Union's Water Framework Directive (WFD) required Member States to establish programmes of measures to achieve good water status formally by 2015, but on postponing the deadline by two six-year periods, by 2027 at the latest. With many Member States facing problems with developing such measures in the first planning cycle, and limited change in ecological status since the first river basin management plans were reported, we look at the implementation of the Directive in England, where only 17% of the surface water bodies were found at good status in 2015, a reduction of 4% since 2009. Using as a case study the Broadland Rivers catchment, we examine the measures taken for Cycle 1 and changes in the classifications of water body status, to investigate whether the way the measures were developed could have limited their potential to deliver WFD objectives. While the WFD was adopted to succeed and replace management practices targeting individually non-compliant element, findings indicate that little had changed in the way measures were developed. Although considerable progress has been made on the implementation of these measures, the limited progress in improving classifications demonstrates the limits of this approach and further makes the case for what the WFD was introduced for: the harmonised transposition of the Integrated River Basin Management paradigm, as the key for delivering good ecological status.

Journal article

Mohamad Ibrahim IH, Gilfoyle L, Reynolds R, Voulvoulis Net al., 2019, Integrated catchment management for reducing pesticide levels in water: Engaging with stakeholders in East Anglia to tackle metaldehyde, Science of the Total Environment, Vol: 656, Pages: 1436-1447, ISSN: 0048-9697

In the agriculture intensive eastern region of England, plant protection products are widely applied to protect crops such as wheat and oilseed rape from pests and diseases, thus creating a risk of reaching nearby water courses through surface runoff. The EU Drinking Water Directive sets a stringent limit of 0.1 μg/l and 0.5 μg/l for individual and total pesticides respectively in treated potable water. However, peak metaldehyde levels have been persistently detected in raw water and reducing them to these limits has proven challenging and costly, in particular when using conventional treatment. In line with the EU Water Framework Directive, a more suitable approach and one adopted by the local water company, Anglian Water Services Ltd., would require moving towards mitigating pollution at source, preferably through participative action with multiple stakeholders in the agricultural industry. Initial findings demonstrate the potential of product substitution for reducing metaldehyde levels in surface waters. Reviewing Anglian Water's “Slug it Out” trial, we discuss key learnings derived from their experiences and make recommendations about the potential of the catchment approach to address the wider pesticide challenge.

Journal article

Giakoumis T, Voulvoulis N, 2018, A participatory ecosystems services approach for pressure prioritisation in support of the Water Framework Directive, Ecosystem Services, Vol: 34, Pages: 126-135, ISSN: 2212-0416

The pressure and impact analysis is an important process in integrated river basin management and a key procedural element of the EU Water Framework Directive. It aims to inform both the assessment of water body status and the development of management responses. However, the Directive does not provide prescriptive guidance on how it should be carried out and during the 1st river basin cycle, its application proved to be a real challenge. Incorporating ecosystem services as indicators of impacts, a participatory framework for pressure prioritisation is presented here. While various methods exist for engaging stakeholders in river basin management, the framework allows for the ecosystem approach to be operationalised through a risk assessment perspective, in the context of the pressure impact analysis. Applying this to a case study in England, we demonstrate how a ranking of pressures can be delivered based on stakeholders’ perception of how the delivery of ecosystem services is affected by each pressure and incorporating their value as indicator of the magnitude of the impact. This approach allows for a more systematic way to effectively prioritise significant pressures and therefore select appropriate programmes of measures in line with the Directive's integrated river basin management paradigm.

Journal article

Iacovidou E, Voulvoulis N, 2018, A multi-criteria sustainability assessment framework: development and application in comparing two food waste management options using a UK region as a case study, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Vol: 25, Pages: 35821-35834, ISSN: 0944-1344

Preventing food wastage is a key element of sustainable resource management. But as food waste is still generated at high volumes, priority is placed on its proper management as a resource, maximising sustainability benefits. This study, by integrating a multi-criteria decision analysis with a sustainability assessment approach, develops a screening and decision support framework for comparing the sustainability performance of food waste management options. A structured process for selecting criteria based on the consideration of environmental, economic and social aspects related to region-specific food waste system planning, policy and management has been developed. Two food waste management options, namely the use of food waste disposal units, which grind food waste at the household’s kitchen sink and discharge it to the sewer, and the anaerobic co-digestion of separately collected food waste with sewage sludge, were selected for comparison due to their potential to create synergies between local authorities, waste and water companies, with local circumstances determining which of the two options to adopt. A simplified process used for assessing and comparing the two food waste management options in the Anglian region in the UK, indicated that there are benefits in using the framework as a screening tool for identifying which option may be the most sustainable. To support decision-making, a detailed analysis that incorporates stakeholders’ perspectives is required. An additional use of the framework can be in providing recommendations for optimising food waste management options in a specific region, maximising their sustainability performance.

Journal article

Giakoumis T, Voulvoulis N, 2018, The transition of EU water policy towards the Water Framework Directive’s Integrated River Basin Management paradigm, Environmental Management, Vol: 62, Pages: 819-831, ISSN: 0364-152X

Introduced in 2000 to reform and rationalise water policy and management across the European Union (EU) Member States (MS), the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the EU’s flagship legislation on water protection, is widely acknowledged as the embodiment and vessel for the application of the Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) paradigm. Its ecological objectives, perhaps even more challenging than the prospect of statutory catchment planning itself, were for all EU waters to achieve ‘good status’ by 2015 (except where exemptions applied) and the prevention of any further deterioration. In support of the upcoming WFD review in 2019, the paper reviews the transition of EU policies that led to the adoption of the WFD, to identify the reasons why the Directive was introduced and what it is trying to deliver, and to place progress with its implementation into context. It further investigates reasons that might have limited the effectiveness of the Directive and contributed to the limited delivery and delays in water quality improvements. Findings reveal that different interpretations on the Directive’s objectives and exemptions left unresolved since its negotiation, ambiguity and compromises observed by its Common Implementation Strategy and lack of real support for the policy shift required have all been barriers to the harmonised transposition of the IRBM paradigm, the key to delivering good ecological status. The 2019 WFD review offers a unique opportunity to realign the implementation of the Directive to its initial aspirations and goals.

Journal article

Burgman MA, Tennant M, Voulvoulis N, Makuch K, Madani Ket al., 2018, Facilitating the transition to sustainable green chemistry, Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry, Vol: 13, Pages: 130-136, ISSN: 2452-2236

Sustainable green chemistry depends on technically feasible, cost-effective and socially acceptable decisions by regulators, industry and the wider community. The discipline needs to embrace a new suite of tools and train proponents in their use. We propose a set of tools that will bridge the gap between technical feasibility and efficiency on one hand, and social preferences and values on the other. We argue that they are indispensable in the next generation of regulators and chemistry industry proponents.

Journal article

Zafeiridou M, Hopkinson NS, Voulvoulis N, 2018, Cigarette Smoking: An assessment of tobacco's global environmental footprint across its entire supply chain., Environmental Science and Technology, Vol: 52, Pages: 8087-8094, ISSN: 0013-936X

While the health effects of cigarette smoking are well recognised and documented, the environmental impacts of tobacco are less appreciated and often overlooked. Here we evaluate tobacco's global footprint across its entire supply chain, looking at resources needs, wastes and emissions of the full cradle-to-grave life cycle of cigarettes. The cultivation of 32.4 Mt of green tobacco used for the production of 6.48 Mt of dry tobacco in the six trillion cigarettes manufactured worldwide in 2014, were shown to contribute almost 84 Mt CO2 eq emissions to climate change - approximately 0.2% of the global total, 490,000 tonnes 1,4 dichlorobenzene eq to ecosystem ecotoxicity levels, over 22 billion m3 and 21 Mt oil eq to water and fossil fuel depletion respectively. A typical cigarette was shown to have a water footprint of 3.7 litres, a climate change contribution of 14 g CO2 eq, and a fossil fuel depletion contribution of 3.5 g oil eq. Tobacco competes with essential commodities for resources and places significant pressures on the health of our planet and its most vulnerable inhabitants. Increased awareness as well as better monitoring and assessment of the environmental issues associated with tobacco should support the current efforts to reduce global tobacco use as an important element of sustainable development.

Journal article

Giakoumis T, Voulvoulis N, 2018, Progress with monitoring and assessment in the wfd implementation in five european river basins: Significant differences but similar problems, European Journal of Environmental Sciences, Vol: 8, Pages: 44-50, ISSN: 1805-0174

The river basin approach of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the introduction of ecological status represent a shift in the assessment and management of freshwater systems from discipline-specific to more holistic, catchment-based principles. At the core of the WFD’s approach are catchments as highly interconnected systems. Despite strict timetables, progress towards achieving the WFD objectives has been slow, with deterioration in some cases not being halted. In this paper, looking at evidence from five European basins (Adige, Anglian, Ebro, Evrotas and Sava) we identify some of the key implementation challenges faced by each catchment during the development and implementation of the 1st River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) of 2009. Despite significant differences in socio-ecological conditions, geographic coverage and starting points in the implementation between these river basins, findings highlight some similar key issues. The lack of a common systemic understanding of each river basin and detailed monitoring data to capture pressure-status interactions in order to anticipate how the system will react to interventions; as well as compliance driven implementation efforts were underlying problems in all five study areas. While some improvements to address these problems can be seen in the 2nd River Basin Management Planning Cycle (2015–2016), our findings demonstrate that a more effective approach is to question the deviation of the whole implementation from the directive’s systemic nature and therefore improve the adaptive, collaborative, participatory and interdisciplinary nature of the implementation efforts.

Journal article

Facchini E, Iacovidou E, Gronow J, Voulvoulis Net al., 2018, Food flows in the United Kingdom: the potential of surplus food redistribution to reduce waste, Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, Vol: 68, Pages: 887-899, ISSN: 2162-2906

The increasing amount of food waste generated as a direct consequence of its excessive production, mismanagement, and wasteful behaviors represents a real challenge in promoting resource efficiency. In the United Kingdom (UK), the lack of robust mass flow data hinders the ability both to understand and address food waste challenges and to devise long-term sustainable prevention strategies. In recognition of these challenges, this paper seeks to (i) provide insights into the UK's annual estimates of food mass flows, including imports, exports, distribution, consumption, surplus food production, and final disposal; and (ii) scrutinize the uptake and redistribution of surplus food as a potential food waste prevention strategy. Evidence collected from several enterprises and community-led initiatives in the UK, and London specifically, supports that there is an increasing potential of making a shift towards food redistribution and reuse. Further analysis has shown that the outreach of food redistribution initiatives in the UK is currently limited, possibly because redistribution efforts remain largely fragmented and independent from each other. It is concluded that a national commitment could be instrumental in encouraging the roll-out of this practice, and governmental support through fiscal incentives could lead to the development of a larger and coherent surplus food redistribution system, ultimately enabling food waste prevention and recovery of food's multidimensional value. IMPLICATIONS: This paper deals with the topical issue of the increasing amount of food waste generated as a direct consequence of excessive production, mismanagement, and wasteful behavior, representing a real challenge in achieving sustainability and resource efficiency. Currently, only a small fraction of food is redistributed back into the system. Yet, a considerable fraction of food waste generated is edible; thus, better planning, storage, and coordination amongst the different stakeholder

Journal article

Alaoma A, Voulvoulis N, 2018, Mineral resource active regions: The need for systems thinking in management, AIMS Environmental Science, Vol: 5, Pages: 78-95, ISSN: 2372-0352

Energy and mineral resource extraction has fuelled economic development in the modern world but has caused unprecedented environmental destruction. Economically viable to extract resources are not evenly distributed but found in a few regions of the world due to unique geologic characteristics. Inequity in distribution of resource benefits and environmental costs predispose these regions to resource conflict and war. Traditional resource management has failed to address their complexity, with most models utilised lacking multi-disciplinary perspective. Understanding the complexity of these regions is a key prerequisite for their management to be effective and sustainable. Here, we investigate the potential of re-assessing mineral resource active regions from a systems perspective. Findings demonstrate that the application of systems thinking in resource management has the potential to deliver benefits to all stakeholders while maintaining ecological integrity. System tools offer an alternative to the reductionist end-of-pipe thinking of traditional resource management and policies. Rather than simply relying on competition, focusing on the interdependencies between the various players and sectors in these regions can deliver system improvements that should be further investigated because of their potential to deliver integrated and holistic solutions that could benefit all involved.

Journal article

Voulvoulis N, 2018, Water reuse from a circular economy perspective and potential risks from an unregulated approach, Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health, Vol: 2, Pages: 32-45, ISSN: 2468-5844

Considerations including water scarcity in arid and semi-arid regions, water security concerns in areas where water demand exceeds water availability, and rigorous and costly requirements to remove nutrients and emerging contaminants from effluent discharge to surface waters have driven water reuse as an alternate water supply in some parts of the world. However, the potential of reusing treated wastewater has not yet been exploited in many areas. A transition to a circular economy could create significant synergies for the wide adoption of water reuse as an alternate water supply. This paper therefore examines opportunities and risks with the transition to such an economy. Findings show that although many of the barriers water reuse is facing, ranging from public perception to pricing and regulatory challenges, could be addressed more effectively through a wider circular economy perspective, care must be taken with regulating and monitoring levels of contaminants in the recycled water according to its use. A review of existing reuse schemes and regulations across the world, found variation, demonstrating the need for assessing benefits and risks on a case by case basis. Recycling and reuse are central to a circular economy approach and offer a strategy to improve water supply by managing wastewater better. Such strategy should also ensure the safety of water reuse, and therefore apply water quality standards appropriate to the specific use, but also ensure adequate and reliable operation of water reuse systems and appropriate regulatory enforcement.

Journal article

Voulvoulis N, 2018, Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) from consumer products in municipal sewage sludge: Implications for environmental risk assessment, 255th National Meeting and Exposition of the American-Chemical-Society (ACS) - Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water, Publisher: AMER CHEMICAL SOC, ISSN: 0065-7727

Conference paper

Voulvoulis N, Arpon KD, Giakoumis T, 2017, The EU Water Framework Directive: From great expectations to problems with implementation, Science of the Total Environment, Vol: 575, Pages: 358-366, ISSN: 0048-9697

The Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC (WFD) is widely accepted as the most substantial and ambitious piece of European environmental legislation to date. It has been referred to as a once in a generation opportunity to restore Europe's waters and a potential template for future environmental regulations. However, fifteen years since it was adopted, and with many problems and delays in its implementation, the WFD has not delivered its main objectives of non-deterioration of water status and the achievement of good status for all EU waters. Putting aside the daunting technical and organisational challenges of its implementation, this paper aims to shed light on why the great expectations that came with the WFD have not yet been fully realised. It reviews how the Directive has been interpreted, focusing on its intentions and how they were applied. The findings reveal the absence of the paradigm shift towards the systems (integrated) thinking that the WFD was grounded on, as a fundamental problem with its implementation. This is also evident in cases where the Directive has been criticised as a policy tool or when implementation efforts were reviewed, indicating misunderstandings even of its core principles. This inherent departure from the Directive's systemic intention and methodological approach needs further investigation, as it could be the reason behind many of its problems and delays. Unless current implementation efforts are reviewed or revised in light of this, enabling the paradigm shift required to ensure a more sustainable and holistic approach to water management, the fading aspirations of the initial great expectations that came with the Directive could disappear for good.

Journal article

Manap N, Voulvoulis N, 2016, Data analysis for environmental impact of dredging, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol: 137, Pages: 394-404, ISSN: 0959-6526

The aim of this paper is twofold; first is to identify the environmental impact of dredging related to water and sediment quality; and second is to identify the main factors determining the environmental impact of dredging. The method of this research is data analysis using historical dredging data from three dredging projects performed from 2006 to 2008 at two connected rivers in Perak, Malaysia. The indices measured to identify the impact include: total suspended solids, dissolved oxygen, chemical oxygen demand, biochemical oxygen demand, pH, total organic content, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, chromium, mercury, arsenic, and lead. The factors are then identified through determination of relationships between concentration levels in sediment and water and identification of patterns of impact in the water and caged fish during dredging activities. The results of the analysis show that dredging performed in these rivers has an impact on the environment. The impact includes an increase in levels of most of the monitored indices, including dissolved oxygen and metal concentrations in highly contaminated areas. The main factors associated with the environmental impacts of dredging are the contamination level of the sediment and the contamination level of the neighbouring area, aspects that are the main scientific value added by this paper. This paper draws conclusions regarding the importance of two analyses prior to commencement of dredging: sediment quality analysis and analysis of contamination level in the neighbouring area prior to dredging. The results of this paper could help to better anticipate the environmental impact of dredging and allow for suitable mitigation measures to be identified, especially for developing countries such as Malaysia.

Journal article

This data is extracted from the Web of Science and reproduced under a licence from Thomson Reuters. You may not copy or re-distribute this data in whole or in part without the written consent of the Science business of Thomson Reuters.

Request URL: http://wlsprd.imperial.ac.uk:80/respub/WEB-INF/jsp/search-html.jsp Request URI: /respub/WEB-INF/jsp/search-html.jsp Query String: respub-action=search.html&id=00309374&limit=30&person=true