Special interest groups

We encourage and promote cross-disciplinary research and facilitate relationship building between colleagues from different schools and departments across campus who have similar interests and/or are working in comparable fields. 

Plastics in the Environment

One of the strategic aims of the University’s Research Themes is to encourage and promote cross-disciplinary research and facilitate relationship building between colleagues from different schools and departments who have similar interests and/or are working in complementary fields.

The Sustainability Research Theme’s first Special Interest Group was established in April 2017 and consists of diverse researchers from across the University with wide-ranging interests in plastics in the environment and related issues. The group is in regular contact and gathers often in order to discuss common interests, relevant events and suitable funding opportunities, all with a view to developing joint, Theme-related research bids.

The Plastics in the Environment Interest Group will be represented during the ‘Producing a Smarter Planet’ workshop at the University Global Partnership Network (UGPN)’s conference in April 2018.

Plastics in the Environment news 

9 October 2019 – Are global food packaging brands really committed to ditching single-use plastic?

  • As the world’s relationship with plastic is being radically redefined, academics at the University of Surrey investigate bold new food packaging pledges made by some of the world’s most prominent brands – and question whether these pledges will translate into measurable actions.
  • The report, presented at the RECOUP Plastics Recycling and Resources Conference 2019, evaluates the extent to which businesses in the food and drink packaging industry – which accounts for approximately 40 per cent of plastics produced – are responding to legal and societal drivers to change their approach to single-use plastics.
  • Surrey academics have analysed the plastic-related public communications from Carlsberg Group, Nestlé, Aldi, Marks and Spencer, Iceland, Quorn, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Müller, Princes, Kraft Heinz and Waitrose.

26 November 2018 - Car tyres create tonnes of plastic pollution

  • A new report by Friends of the Earth has revealed that as much as 19,000 tonnes of microplastic pollution could be entering UK waterways every year from vehicle tyres
  • Microplastics can absorb and concentrate toxic pollutants from seawater, making them poisonous to animals
  • Friends of the Earth is advising a number of measures to combat car tyre pollution and calls for the government to plan for a reduction to zero plastic pollution by 2042

4 August 2018 - Only one third of UK’s plastic food packaging is recyclable, study finds

  • The Local Government Association (LGA) has completed recent analysis which indicates that two-thirds of all plastic food container waste is still being incinerated or thrown into landfill
  • The LGA recommends a ban on the use of low-grade plastic in order to increase recycling
  • Separation of plastic parts at materials recovery facilities should be improved to assist manufacturers in creating high-quality recyclable products.

18 June 2018 - Science Minister announces £20m Plastics Research and Innovation Fund

  • The new fund aims to explore new ideas and innovations that can encourage changes in the UK's plastics manufacturing and consumption patterns 
  • The Plastics and Research Innovation Fund (PRIF) will be managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 
  • The PRIF aims to engage scientists and innovators to help achieve a more circular economic and sustainable approach to plastics for the UK.

January 2018 - All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Prevention of Plastic Waste established

  • The focus of the APPG is ‘to monitor the progress of the 25 year Environment Plan in relation to plastic waste; to raise issues relating to the impact of plastic waste on our environment and to provide a cross-party forum to work towards the minimisation of plastic waste’.