Join our research efforts to end plastic pollution in all forms and environmental compartments, and maximise resource recovery for after-use items in multiple life cycles, fostering a genuinely sustainable circular economy.
Here you can find ways to work with us on projects to end plastics pollution. We conduct collaborative and equitable interdisciplinary research all over the world - you can see some of our past and ongoing efforts detailed in the Projects. In selected cases, were suitable, we may provide consultancy services. I also welcome discussions with potential PhD students on relevant topics - we look for highly numerate, independent thinkers, eager researchers. We also work with the international academic community, support organizations and engage in fora to promote sound waste and resources management, a sustainable curricular economy, and preventive solutions to the plastics pollution and marine litter global challenge. We prioritise agenda setting initiatives and opportunities featuring high ambition and potential for innovation, and scalable preventive and effective solutions. We strive to work on solutions able to move the world forward at pace, avoid problem shifting, and explicitly recognise and quantify trade-offs between aspects of value and stakeholders. We look forward to hearing from you and your ideas for collaboration.
Research and Innovation
We are passionate about the efficacy of joint interdisciplinary efforts. We strive to conduct collaborative and equitable research. We are open to projects all over the world, recognising the varying socioeconomic conditions and cultural preferences. For example, across the Global South we focus on mismanaged solid waste - and in affluent Global North more into littering and fly tipping as key sources of macro-plastics pollution. Our core research areas include modelling of plastic pollution at from local to global scale to quantify the extent and nature of the problem and identify and prioritise effective engineering and policy interventions (SPOT, P2O, WFD, ISWA PPC). We bring substantial expertise on solid waste and resource management systems, from an environmental engineering point of view. One particular opportunity and challenge is that of the waste pickers (informal recycling sector) addressed with leading tools such as InteRa and SoCo. We have co-created a series of tools relevant for global benchmarking - not least WABI: Wasteaware Cites Benchmark Indicators. We conduct systems analytics, focusing on trade off and can quantify circular economy with tools such as CVORR. Our basis is always material properties, and to this we can perform waste characterisation in state of the art labs, organised around the concept of representative sub-sampling. When plastics cannot be reused/ repurposed/ recycled, we would analyse other options for value recovery, not least in the form of quality assured solid recovered fuels (SRF) to replace fossil fuels in cement kilns. To this we work both on the mechanical processing in MBT or just mechanical treatment plants and the fuels quality assurance in laboratory. We always take a systems analytics approach, include advanced data analytical and strive to quantify uncertainty.
PhD candidates and PDRAs
PhD researchers are core part of our team efforts. Unusually your PhD research topic would be stand-alone, but could also be incorporated in a wider research project in total or just parts of it. You would be fully incorporated into our research team and develop your research skill in the supportive environment of the Water, Public Health and Environmental Engineering Group, within the world-leading School of Civil Engineering (in 50 best, QS rankings 2020) and Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. We look for PhD candidates genuinely enthusiastic about academic rigour, with the desire to become independent researchers and also aspiration to publish in the world’s best academic journals: We favour PhD by academic papers. Typical PhD candidates would be highly numerate, with strong background in data analytics/ statistics and with systems approach and BSc/ MSc studies in environmental/ chemical/ process engineering or earth and environment science. University scholarships may be available, on a highly competitive basis (usually pot cohort results, previous scientific publications in peer reviewed journals and awards are needed for successful applicants). PhD holders also can join us as PDRAs (Post-Doctoral Research Associates) – we are currently opportunities for those in data analytics, statistics, environmental systems modelling and AI backgrounds. Understanding of waste and resource management systems is beneficial but not mandatory.
International initiatives, organisations and fora
In our efforts to end mismanaged waste and plastic pollution, we actively participate in the international debate and initiatives. We formulate our own long-standing collaborations in the form of MoUs (such as those with ISWA and Grid-Arendal) and accept positions in leading Advisory Boards, such as the one for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2016 'New Plastics Economy' seminal report. Currently Dr Costas Velis as part of his service to the community leads the International Solid Waste Association's Marine Litter Task Force.
If you are interested to work with us, please contact us at PlasticPollution@leeds.ac.uk - We will be happy to provide further information about our existing plastic pollution projects and initiatives, and discuss new collaboration opportunities.