MIT II: Plastics, from cradle to grave

27th April 2018 (7pm)

Our final Making in Transit event is here. We will be discussing plastic and the threats it poses. We’ve all heard about the threats they present and that it’s crucial that we change industrial and social practices if we are to confront and process this problem.


Over 90% of plastics are produced from oil, which represents 6% of total global oil consumption, the same as consumed by the aviation industry. The finite nature of oil reserves, as well as the geopolitical ramifications linked to its exploration, make a move towards a different feedstock the logical choice. Renewable biologically derived plastics have attracted a vast amount of research and interest over the past two decades and offer a potential solution. But why is the amount of plastic produced in this way so small? Why are we still so reliant on fossil fuels?

The disposal of plastics is a huge issue, with a lot of current media attention helping to change public opinion and policy. With ‘islands’ of plastic forming in the oceans, microparticles of plastic entering the food chain and landfills overflowing with plastic waste, a solution to the end of life issues of plastics must be found. Is the answer biodegradable plastics? Recycling? Or a move away from single use products all together. How achievable is this with plastics so prolific throughout our world? In this talk the benefits plastic has brought to society will be detailed, the challenges faced with be explored, and the solutions scientists are working on will be explained.

Michael Joyes is a final year chemistry PhD student in the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies at the University of Bath. His work focuses replacing the plastic, PET (polyethylene terephthalate), commonly used in drinks bottles and food packaging and derived from crude oil, with a sustainable bio based replacement, PEF (polyethylene furanoate). Through the design and testing of new catalysts used in the manufacture of PEF plastic, the aim is to produce plastic that meets commercial standards and helps contribute to the move away from petroleum based plastics and towards a bio-based future.



Our second speaker Oliver Lawder is a Senior Planner and works for sustainability consultancy Futerra and will discuss some of the current challenges in developing more sustainable climate conscious practices. As a case study, Oliver will discuss Futerra’s work with Heathrow Airport, describing how their project navigated the challenges of creating a vision for sustainable infrastructure. Highlighted the need to balance local, national and global needs, we will discuss the necessity for large companies and organisations to have the ‘big conversations’ with, in order to deliver a sustainable future.


Get your tickets here! 




Important Notice: We will close this series with a sincere and heartfelt apology addressed to Angela Chan, founder of WORM PlatformAngela Chan generously contributed a talk to MiT last month about important and sensitive issues concerning environmental racism and the decolonisation of nature. We failed to manage the Q&A in a way that was supportive of Angela and we acknowledge that our handling of the Q&A was harmful to her and the audience. We recognise that our handling of the event was not professional, did not echo the important messages in Angela’s talk and does not reflect our core principles or beliefs. We acknowledge that we failed to respond to comments in the right way during the event which we profoundly regret. We will share what we have recognised was wrong with our management, what we failed to see, as well as what action we will be taking in order to be more proactive, educated and supportive of individuals and organisations who are carefully delivering and designing essential platforms that rightly challenge pervailing forces of patriarchal structural oppression that propagate suffering, exploitation, domination, discrimination and destruction. We want to support these individuals in every way that we can. We will be sharing some readings from T.J.Demos’ excellent book ‘Against the Anthropocene’, Rosi Braidotti’s ‘The Post Human’, and discussing some of the troubling truths about our society and how perceptions on global, environmental and social problems must shift to acknowledge that we are not equally responsible for climate change.



THECUBE London is excited to have hosted Making in Transit for a second time, and are already looking forward to the next one. Sustainability is not only an environmental challenge, but also a social one, and needs more open and challenging perspectives on ecological issues through discussions, creative practices, and other forms of engagement.