We are the Utrecht Plastic Sources, Sinks and Solutions (UPlasticS3) network. A unique combination of scientists with all expertises required for the optimal combination of solutions: natural sciences, law, governance and policy sciences. Individually, our breakthrough research is recognised and honoured - now is the opportunity to accelerate our team on the basis of excellent team-science, leading this important societal problem to workable solutions.
Plastic waste is a major environmental problem; both in magnitude and in complexity, with effective solutions inherently interdisciplinary. What is the most effective mix of solutions for plastic waste in the environment, and how can that effectiveness best be measured?
- We were the first to map the plastic floating on the surface of the ocean, and where seabirds, turtles and other organisms are at highest risk from ingesting plastics.
- We have discovered that plastics can desorb toxins that can affect microorganisms, but that at the same time microbes are also capable of breaking down plastics.
- We have developed new measurement instruments to measure the dispersion of nanoplastics in the ocean. We are currently adapting our methods to investigate the presence of nanoplastic in animal tissues, including whale blood.
- We have shown that policy and law can and should be shaped in such a way that the plastic pollution problem is addressed at source, with a mix of binding and nudging policies at different levels of government.
- We brought the plastic whale Skyscraper to Utrecht, built and designed to generate attention to the huge amount of plastic waste that pollutes rivers, seas and oceans around the world.
- We have created the website All about plastic soup, aimed at high school students and offers easily accessible information about plastic soup: from how it was created to solutions for a plastic-free ocean.
- We participate in national and European projects on plastic, including nanoplastics.org, AURORA, POLYRISK, topios.org, atlanteco.eu and many others.
- We collaborated on an in-depth popular scientific article answering the question: Where has all the plastic gone?