Who knew you can make plastic from castor beans? Well not me, for one. Admittedly, chemistry has never been my strong point but whilst looking at some new materials recently I was surprised and rather delighted to find durable plastics being made from renewable resources. Plastics are amazing materials, and we’d be hard pressed to imagine a world without them now, but it has been estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the sea each year. Some of this is eaten by fish, and some of them are eaten by us. Not a pleasant thought at all. So what can be done about it?

Dame Ellen MacArthur, writing for Huffington Post, explains the situation beautifully and takes it a step – no, a leap - further in describing the New Plastics Economy. This is proposed as part of the wider ‘circular economy’ concept that is relevant to all designers, manufacturers, consumers …. well, everyone really. Especially if you eat fish. The vision aims to encourage materials science and product design innovation in ways that will provide alternatives to fossil-based plastics (like the beans), improve the economics of recycling, and reduce the escape of plastics into the environment.