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The Problem with Plastics

Hear Mark Miodownik talk plastics this Friday 27 June, 7–8pm


Exploring the idea of a circular economy

Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Summit 2019 at London's Roundhouse, Thursday 13 June


Unwrapping the Packaging Problem

Insightful discussion with Everyday Plastic at the British Library


Hear our perspectives on a better future for plastics

Discussion event at Bow Arts, 18 July 2019, from 7pm


Join us at Cheltenham Science Festival 2019

The Plastic Waste Solution, Wednesday 5 June, 3:30–4:30pm


UCL launches its Plastic Waste Innovation Hub

Notes on the launch of the Hub

Plastic Waste Innovation Hub

About Us


Designing-out Plastic Waste

This 18-month project, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), brings together a diverse team of UCL researchers interested in solving the UK's plastic waste problem. Our aim is to develop new ways to design-out waste from plastic packaging and create new business opportunities. We believe that waste is a failure of design: whether that is a failure to design plastics that are reusable, recyclable, or compostable; a failure to design waste-collection methods that encourage a more proactive approach to recycling; a failure to design economically viable mechanical and chemical recycling processes; or a failure to design the market incentives that ensure local authorities can invest in waste-management technology. Each design failure affects and compromises the whole system, leading to the leakage of plastic into the environment, and creating an economic burden on the UK.

Led by Professor Mark Miodownik, the project takes a design approach to the issue of plastic waste by assembling a multidisciplinary team of experts from across UCL, who will create and test new interventions in eliminating plastic waste. The team will also collaborate with a Steering Committee of professionals from across the sector, including those from manufacturing, retailers, policy makers, local government, sustainability charities, and waste management.

To understand more about the genesis of the project, you can listen to Professor Mark Miodownik's three-part radio programme, ‘Plastic Fantastic’, for BBC Radio 4 here.

Our Objectives

  • Develop enzyme-catalysed recycling technologies
  • Design novel solutions
  • Interface with the public through the Hub


  • Public policy
  • Behaviour change
  • Economics
  • Design
  • Chemistry
  • Biochemical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Digital
  • Materials Science

Global outlook

  • Researchers
  • Shoppers
  • Businesses
  • NGOs
  • Teachers
  • Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Schools
  • Students
  • Families


The fund is managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), delivered via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Innovate UK, with strategic oversight from Professor Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Contact Us

UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub

Level 2, 90 Tottenham Court Road

London. W1T 4TJ