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Educators help to spread the word on the impact of plastic pollution

Educators help to spread the word on the impact of plastic pollution 

The Environment Agency has teamed up with educators to deliver two talks on marine and freshwater plastic pollution to potentially thousands of students across the country.

The talks, organised by the agency’s plastics and sustainability team in collaboration with other Preventing Plastic Pollution partners, will be available to watch on demand and will be released to PiXL member schools on November 25.

PiXL (Partners in Excellence) is a partnership of over 1,100 secondary schools, 400 sixth forms, 1000 primary schools and 30 providers of alternative education across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The talks form part of PiXL’s Stretch Strategy, which aims to challenge students by introducing them to ideas, concepts and disciplines that go beyond the curriculum and into the real world.

The first talk from the Environment Agency and the University of Plymouth focuses on microplastic pollution (accumulation, impacts and potential solutions).

It aims to uncover some of the less well known sources of microplastic in our everyday life, demonstrating how different types of microplastics are investigated at a bespoke microplastic research laboratory.

The talk will also highlight the importance of people from different backgrounds working together. For example, social scientists and psychologists working with biologists and chemists, and research scientists working with young people, citizens and policymakers – all to help reduce plastic pollution and change behaviour and relationships with plastic.

The second talk focuses on a freshwater case study, bringing together work from the Environment Agency, Queen Mary University of London and The Rivers Trust.

The talk illustrates the need for research in the growing field of microplastic pollution in our freshwater environment and how research can be used to mobilise change and action.

QMUL’s Dr Iwan Jones will discuss the uncertainty in our understanding of microplastic pollution in freshwater, how the volume of plastic in our environment is being assessed, and the potential risks these pose to organisms and their habitat, now and in the future.

Clare Whitelegg, from The Rivers Trust, will demonstrate how data generated from research is used and applied, including tools like GIS mapping, to help communicate the issue to members of the public and policymakers to drive behaviour change and action.

The talks contribute to Preventing Plastic Pollution targets to transform plastic use in the next generation (schools) by running events and creating new resources. They are in addition to work being undertaken with schools directly in the Preventing Plastic Pollution project areas.