From the government to the media to McDonalds, everyone agrees that something must be done about the environmental catastrophe caused by our mass production of plastics, most of which are thrown away. But is there a risk that we will throw the baby out with the bathwater and if plastics didn’t exist would we have to create them? Are we in danger of visualising a world without plastics before we have found viable alternatives? And could we do more harm than good if we rush too quickly into knee jerk technical fixes? Do we need more research around waste management solutions than alternatives to plastic? What kinds of timescales are we talking about until practical solutions emerge into common use.
Paul Mines, CEO, Biome Technologies and advisor to BBSRC
Prof Simon McQueen-Mason, Director of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) and Chair in Materials Biology, University of York
Dr Janet Scott, Professor of Sustainable Chemistry, University of Bath
Prof Tim Bugg, Professor of Biological Chemistry, University of Warwick