It is essential but polluting. It saves lives, yet it chokes our oceans. It is cheap to create but expensive to dispose of. It can last forever, but is often used only once. PLASTIC has changed our daily lives and our environment more than any other material. We can’t live without it. But living with it might not be an option for much longer.

Parkesine plastic debuted at the Great International Exhibition in London in 1862, as a highly-innovative and low-cost material, resistant to both water and oils. Fast forward to today and the world is filled with foams, vinyls, acrylics and a host of other materials; designed to cover, pack and protect everyday products like water, food and medicine that humans rely and depend on. Plastic packaging has advanced humanity as we know it but comes bearing as many negative outcomes as positive.


Pamela Byrne holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from University College, Cork (UCC); an MSc in Aquatic Resource Management from Kings College, University of London; a BSc in Zoology from UCC and a Higher Diploma in Environmental Law from the University of Aberystwyth in Wales. Prior to taking up the position of CEO at the FSAI in March 2015, Dr. Byrne held the role of Director of Regulatory Policy and Intelligence with Abbott Nutrition. Having previously held senior positions in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, she has extensive experience of the food regulatory environment, as well as expertise in risk assessment and food safety management at both national and international levels. During her time at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dr. Byrne gained a deep knowledge of the food sector as an environmental toxicologist and risk assessor and was instrumental in developing Ireland’s research and innovation policy programmes in relation to food and the bio-economy. 

Sarah Keyes is the Co-founder and Sales Director of Ecostraws, combining 20 years experience in the education sector with a background in hospitality and a passion for the environment. Working with An Taisce, Sarah has been part of the Green Schools Education Programme which promotes sustainability in schools in Ireland. Furthermore, Sarah believes in educating the youth to promote environmental awareness on a local and national level for the benefit of generations to come.

Michael Morris is the Director of the AMBER Research Centre and a Professor in the School of Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin.  He is also a member of the Beacon Research Centre. His work centres on the self-assembly and phase separation of polymers for use in emerging applications ranging from electronic devices through to bio-assay and medical diagnostics.  A particular focus is the development of polymer and biopolymer membranes for separation.  He works with a number of companies on polymer materials including Intel, Logitech, Johnson & Johnson and Merck with an emphasis on the development of sustainable practices for the use of polymers.

Enda O'Dowd is a lecturer in the Product Design Department at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and course coordinator for the MSc in Medical Device Design. With a BSc in Polymer Technology from Athlone IT and an MSc in Engineering Product Design from Bournemouth University, he specialises in applying science and technology to design questions. Enda has a keen interest in sustainability and has integrated sustainability considerations into the teaching of materials and manufacturing at NCAD. Having coordinated modules in Design Thinking for the MBA at The UCD Smurfit School UCD and Sustainable Product Design at NUI Maynooth he is interested in the design of new products, services and business models for the circular economy. 




Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic having served a few years as managing editor up to 2019. She joined in 2011 as a journalist covering gadgets, new media and tech jobs news. She comes from a background in publishing and is known for being particularly pernickety when it comes to spelling and grammar – earning her the nickname, Critical Red Pen.

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