This uniquely interdisciplinary PhD project unites both material and social science. Building on the highly successful UKRI funded ‘One Bin to Rule Them All’ project, this studentship focuses on applying systemic understanding to unlock circular plastics and multi-materials in construction settings. It seeks to investigate plastic recycling within the UK construction industry, identifying material and social barriers and opportunities for creating circular economy opportunities.
The UK plastics industry is a crucial part of the nation's economy contributing £27 billion/yr and is a major national employer (approx. 182,000 jobs in UK). The use of plastics is fundamental to the construction industry in a plethora of ways (electronics, waste-water piping, windows, insulation, lighting). Current approaches to the linear usage of plastics means that over two thirds of all plastics produced and used are either sent to landfill or incinerated for energy production, amounting to 200 million tonnes a year. This is especially true during the phases of building construction and disassembly. This approach to end-of-life plastics has immediate economic and environmental impacts that have significant implications on society and the economy. Not only do they pose an environmental threat, their end-of-life treatment (generally incineration) represents a huge economic burden in disposal and a loss of value as resource
Through an integrated focus on both the material and social realities of plastic usage within the construction industry, this studentship will develop a pathway of circularity for construction plastics. This will involve creating a hierarchy of construction plastics to understand the optimal route for capturing and retaining value in plastic waste through reuse, mechanical or chemical recycling, with practical material science evaluation of material fate coupled to quantification at construction site and social practice studies with construction industry stakeholders to explore the barriers to capturing material value at end-of-life
The successful candidate will be enthusiastic about sustainability and have a clear interest in interdisciplinarity, showing a passion to learn the complementary disciplines required to deliver the project.
Academic background of candidates
Applicants should have or expect to achieve a Master’s degree in either materials / polymer science, chemistry, engineering or relevant social science subject (Geography, Sociology).
Contact for further Information
Prof Michael Shaver, [Email Address Removed],
At the University of Manchester, we pride ourselves on our commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect in everything we do. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and identities and encourage you to bring your whole self to work and study. We will ensure that your application is given full consideration without regard to your race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, age, marital or pregnancy status, or socioeconomic background. All PhD places will be awarded on the basis of merit.
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