Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution
featuring Prof. John McGeehan is Professor of Structural Biology and the Director of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) at University of Portsmouth.
About the lecture
Following the discovery of a bacterium capable of breaking down the man-made plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET), scientists have been working towards uncovering the workings of enzymes that can perform this remarkable reaction. Found in single-use drinks bottles, packaging, clothing and carpets, PET can take centuries to decompose, and is accumulating in our environment at a staggering rate. Enzymes that can digest PET into its original building blocks provide routes towards circular plastic recycling.
In this lecture, Prof. McGeehan outlines the work his team at University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Enzyme Innovation has been engaged in, from searching for novel plastic-digesting bacteria in environments polluted with plastics, to collaborations with world-leading researchers to bring together the very latest advances in artificial intelligence. Prof. McGeehan discusses the economics of enzyme-based recycled PET vs fossil-derived virgin PET, revealing comparative costs at scale, but with up to 80% energy savings across the supply chain and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of up to 40%.
Click here to view Prof. McGeehan's introduction to the lecture.
About the Speaker
Prof. John McGeehan is Professor of Structural Biology and the Director of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) at University of Portsmouth. His team is interested in understanding enzyme function at the atomic level and works with a host of international collaborators from academic laboratories, institutes and industry partners. He is a staunch advocate of research dissemination across all levels, and has given over 50 invited talks since 2018 to audiences ranging from school children, to public events, scientific conferences and government panels, while also engaging with the media.
About the University
After a decade as one of the largest and best performing polytechnics in the UK, Portsmouth Polytechnic received university status in 1992. Ranked now as one of the Top 150 Young Universities anywhere in the world*, University of Portsmouth has also received 5-star ratings** for teaching, employability, internationalisation, facilities, arts and culture, and inclusiveness.
* Times Higher Education Young Universities Ranking 2020
** QS World University Rankings 2021
About the British Council GREAT Lecture Series
The British Council GREAT Lecture Series showcases UK's knowledge, creativity and innovation through leading UK specialists in areas of topical debate and discussion. Throughout the year, the British Council in Singapore organises and hosts a variety of lectures on diverse topics such as arts, environment, sciences and more, aimed at academics, practitioners, students and the general public