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European Scientific Advice Mechanism evidence review on the topic Biodegradability of plastics in the open environment.

13 December 2019


PDF icon European Scientific Advice Mechanism evidence review on the topic Biodegradability of plastics in the open environment

Call for nominations for an international working group to conduct the evidence review.

The European Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) provides independent and transparent scientific advice to the European Commission, working with a Group of Chief Scientific Advisors and the European Academies (SAPEA).

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) comprises the five European Academy Networks: Academia Europaea, ALLEA, EASAC, Euro-CASE and FEAM. SAPEA represents over 100 Academies in more than 40 European countries, and spans all the major disciplines (including engineering, humanities, medicine, science and social sciences).

The Group of Chief Scientific Advisers intends to produce a policy-based Scientific Opinion on the topic of Biodegradability of plastics in the open environment. The overarching question is:

From a scientific point-of-view and an end-of-life perspective, and applying to plastics that biodegrade either in the terrestrial, riverine or marine environments, and considering the waste hierarchy and circular economy approach:

What are the criteria and corresponding applications of biodegradable plastics that are beneficial to the environment, compared with non-biodegradable plastics?

SAPEA will undertake the evidence review that informs the Scientific Opinion. To address the topic, SAPEA will set up an international and interdisciplinary working group of around 15 expert members, covering both scientific/technical fields and the social sciences/humanities. The experts will provide their input via physical meetings and are expected to draft sections of a report in-between meetings. A final first draft of the Evidence Review Report should be completed by September 2020.

Members of the Working Group are expected to:

  • Meet around three times between March and June 2020
  • Consider the results of the systematic search of the published literature on the topic
  • Draft the Evidence Review Report and review/advise on the editorial work undertaken by SAPEA staff, with the near-final draft of the Evidence Review Report delivered by early September 2020
  • Respond to the comments made by the peer reviewers of the Evidence Review Report
  • Be involved in stakeholder and public engagement work (such as meetings, conferences, events), as appropriate

Nominees for the working group must be able to demonstrate applied/practical knowledge/experience related to the biodegradability of plastics in the open environment. In particular, the following expertise is sought:

  1. Chemistry - material sciences (polymers)
  2. Micro-biology
  3. Environmental impacts
  4. Waste management
  5. Social sciences, including littering psychology, labelling, consumer behaviour
  6. Risk analysis

Ideally experts should be able to provide expertise covering EU countries and awareness of the global situation, with at least one expert on developing countries.

For full information about the project, please see the attached document.

To express an interest in being nominated to this project by the Royal Irish Academy, please contact by Wednesday 8th January 2020.

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