Read a blog from Innovate UK’s Marine Plastics Manager, Denise Goldsmith, on her experience working with the Materials Team and GRIPS 2022.
“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle
There is no typical day as marine plastics manager in the materials team and the diversity is refreshing. Whether talking about seaweed tampons, plastic free periods, microplastic pollution on sea grass or biodegradable fishing nets – as a team we cover it all. Externally the the dialogue is shifting and the expertise within Innovate UK is more valuable than ever.
“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is clearly Ocean.” – Arthur C. Clarke
Just a few quotes to give you a taste of the scale and importance of the oceans to our very existence. My passion for the marine environment matches my passion for science, for education and raising awareness that not only can ‘everything’ be linked to science, but the oceans are also inextricably linked to the fabric of our existence. I now need to add polymers to the remit considering that we can find plastics in the depths of the oceans, the food that we eat and the air that we breath. In January I attended the first ‘Ocean plastic virtual summit’ conference which brought together investors, manufacturers, marine scientists, NGO’s, governance and policy to discuss ‘ocean bound plastic’ and the need for a collaborative approach to find and implement solutions. In addition to that I managed to catch a few sessions of the Coastal Futures ‘Ocean Recovery’ conference in which policy makers and researchers discussed coastal communities, resources, pollution and how we will manage the recovery of the marine environment and its resources. Not surprising considering that ‘the UK is a global leader in combatting plastic waste’ and is also ‘a global leader in protecting our ocean and marine life.’ Over the years I’ve attended many events addressing the same issues but something has changed. There is a growing urgency amongst all sectors to make changes and more importantly to collaborate. Industry partners are being sought where historically policy makers and academia forged ahead. The potential for Innovate UK to join the dots and facilitate these connections is huge and essential. Last week on separate occasions one from an investor and one from the fishing industry I heard huge praise that Innovate UK is working within marine plastics and has the potential to effect change due to our unique insight and expertise as an organisation and contacts within all sectors of the plastics value chain.
Our Global Research & Innovation in Plastics Sustainability (GRIPS) 2022 conference brings together such organisations whether looking at microplastics, mitigation, monitoring, alternative polymer like materials, smart sustainable plastic packaging, recycling, re-use or refill to name just a few. With every speaker that we secure, with every R&I we step closer to valueing plastic as an incredible material and we also make a step closer to the remediation and mitigation of plastic within the oceans.
There is no typical day in the materials team and the diversity is refreshing. Yesterday I had coffee with Agri food and chatted about seaweed tampons, plastic free periods and the impact of microplastic pollution on sea grass. An IX challenge raised questions about offshore wind farms and marine mammals. I talked to a manufacturer about chemical recycling, a fisherman about biodegradable fishing nets and a researcher about resins. I’m trying to get my head around meta materials but that’s a work in progress!
– Denise Goldsmith, Innovate UK Marine Plastics Manager