Our throw away society is polluting large areas of the world's oceans with plastics, threatening marine life and food chains
Professor Richard Thompson’s research focuses on three main topics (1) the effects of plastic debris in the marine environment (2) the ecology and conservation of shallow water habitats and (3) habitat modification to enhance biodiversity of marine engineering such as coastal defences and off-shore renewable energy devices.
He has been working on the effects of plastic in the marine environment for over a decade. In 2004 his group showed that waters around the north-east Atlantic had become contaminated by microscopic fragments of plastic or ‘microplastic’ and that the abundance of this material had increased significantly over the last 40 years.
These microplastic fragments some of which were smaller than the diameter of a human hair appear to have formed by the breakdown of everyday items such as plastic bags, bottles, rope and materials used in packaging. His group is at the forefront of research to establish the environmental consequences of this newly described form of debris.
“Part of the solution is to design products for end of life recyclability, so that we have closed loop recycling. Then society will put a higher value on what we currently see as valueless waste.” Professor Richard Thompson
Featured image: Dustan Woodhouse @dwoodhouse / Unsplash
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