Understanding Plastic-based Pollutants

Multidisciplinary research with Queen Mary's Centre for Biodiversity and Sustainability, is helping to develop policy on reducing plastic pollution

When plastics degrade, they release toxic pollutants into soil and water, causing long-lasting damage to the environment. To address this issue, it is vital that international policymakers have accurate data on how both traditional and new plastics degrade. An interdisciplinary team of scientists at Queen Mary University of London has developed new, accurate methods for determining rates of biodegradation of different plastics. They have also generated new evidence on how some plastics are naturally broken down by bacteria.

This research has

  • informed public policy debate on the biodegradation of plastics in the UK and Europe and
  • underpinned the development of new UK guidelines on the analysis of plastics in the environment.

The research has informed European Commission debate on the introduction of new regulations governing new biodegradable plastics, and has been used by not-for-profit and governmental organisations, including the Oxo-biodegradable Plastic Association (OPA) and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to develop policy.