LabPlas High-Level Panel on Plastic Governance: roadmap for the upcoming decade

An EurOCEAN side-event

  • DATE
    October 9th, 2023, 4-5:30 PM CET
    Aula 1. Edifício Redeiras – Universidade de Vigo. Rúa da Ribeira do Berbés, 11, 36202 Vigo
    Click here to register (limitation of 40 people)
  • This event is organised by the AIR Centre, in the framework of the H2020 project LabPlas, as an EurOCEAN Side Event.
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LabPlas High-Level Panel on Plastic Governance: roadmap for the upcoming decade

October 09, 2023, 4-5:30 PM CET

Plastics play a vital role in modern society, being used in various fields of our daily life, however, this convenience comes at a significant environmental price. Most of the plastic waste ends up either in landfills or the natural environment, ultimately finding its way into the ocean. While global plastic production reached 390 million tonnes per year, it is estimated that nearly 10 million tonnes per year are entering the ocean. This extensive build-up of plastic in the environment poses a significant threat to ecosystems, human health, and the economy.

The EU project LabPlas is a collaborative project involving 17 organizations. Its purpose is to comprehensively study the sources, transportation, distribution, and impacts of plastic pollution. The project focuses on investigating small micro and nano plastics (SMNPs, <100 μm), typically overlooked in environmental monitoring but presenting the highest risk to organisms and human well-being. Through LabPlas, scientific evidence will be generated to inform regulatory efforts and dispel misconceptions about plastic properties. Additionally, the project will explore technological advancements, promote the use of biodegradable materials, and share its findings with national and international authorities as well as the industry to facilitate decision making.

This High-Level Panel will be a platform for the plastic industry, the scientific community, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society to come together and discuss the multifaceted issue of plastic pollution, setting the base for the challenges of the next decade. The focus is on what various actors in Europe, including industry, society, and policymakers, are accomplishing to tackle this complex problem. Moreover, the HL Panel will highlight the ambitious research conducted under the LabPlas project, addressing key aspects of plastics in ecosystems, such as their sources, biodegradability, ecotoxicology, and environmental assessment. Intended to be a space of dialogue, this HL panel aims to foster collaboration, synergy, and coordinated actions among stakeholders toward achieving the goal of zero plastic pollution by 2050, as outlined in the recent EU’s Zero Pollution Action Plan.

European FlagThe LabPlas H2020 Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101003954

Programme (PM CET)

16:00 – 16:05 Welcome and Introduction. Natalia Ospina-Alvarez (AIR Centre)

16:05 – 16:30 Key Speaker Presentation. Setting the scene: Plastic governance

16:30 – 16:50 Self-introduction of the panellists (5 minutes each)

16:50 – 17:30 Round table ‘Plastic Governance: roadmap for the upcoming decade’

17:30 – 17:35 Final remarks and closing. Natalia Ospina-Alvarez (AIR Centre).

Download the programme here


Ricardo Beiras

Scientific coordinator LabPlas Project. University of Vigo.

Ricardo Beiras is graduated in Biology from the University of Santiago and holds a PhD in aquaculture from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO). Since then, he worked as a marine researcher at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK), the IFREMER Station d’Arcachon (France), the University of Antwerpen (Belgium) and the University of Vigo (Galicia, Spain) where he is a Full Professor in ecology, teaching Marine Pollution from 1995. He has been the head of ECIMAT, the University of Vigo’s Marine Station, with a staff of ca. 20 people, for 10 years. He is an international expert in marine pollution (>140 papers in SCI journals). Supervisor of 11 finished PhD Thesis. Expert under contract for evaluation rounds of EU. Advisor of the IEO at ICES working groups. He has coordinated the JPI-Oceans Ephemare Project, a consortium of 16 Institutions from 10 countries targeting the ecotoxicological effects of microplastics on marine ecosystems and is the scientific coordinator of the LabPlas Project.

Thorsten Kiefer

Executive Director, JPI Oceans

Thorsten Kiefer is the Executive Director of JPI Oceans. He has a vast experience in the management of international research and innovation programmes. Before joining JPI Oceans, he was at Future Earth as director of the Global Hub in Paris, working with researchers and innovators on the big societal challenge of transitioning the world to global sustainability. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Past Global Changes (PAGES) programme in Switzerland. In his earlier days as a researcher, he had specialised in the field of palaeoceanography. At the Universities of Kiel, Germany, and Cambridge, UK, he analysed deep-sea sediments to study the substantial changes that occurred in ocean and climate over the past thousands to ten thousands of years. He will give an overlook to JPI Oceans projects on ‘Microplastics in the marine environment’ as part of one of JPI Oceans’ pilot activities.

Begoña Espiña

Leader of the Water Quality Research Group, International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory

Begoña Espiña is since October 2016, the Leader of the Water Quality Research Group at INL in Braga, Portugal. Dr Espiña focuses her research on developing portable and automated measuring devices for the selective detection and quantification of water chemical and biological contaminants, including micro- and nanoplastics, and developing methods for nanomaterials’ fate, bioaccumulation and toxicity with special emphasis on implementing the safety-by-design concept. Begoña Espiña holds both Bachelor’s (2003) and PhD (2009) degrees in Biology from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), Spain. She has been the principal investigator of several European and national funded projects and coordinated the Interreg Atlantic Area project NANOCULTURE (2019-2022). She is currently PI for several EU projects (LABPLAS, D4RUNOFF, SbD4Nano, AIHABs and DIGIRAS) and coordinator of the EEA grant OPTIRAS. Begoña is a core member of 2 working groups in Water Europe (European Platform for Water) and a member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC).

Gary Kett

Co-Founder of the All-Atlantic Plastic Pilot Network. Researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research – CIIMAR

Gary Kett is a Marine Biologist who specialises in coastal ecosystem health, particularly in plastic pollution, animal health, and science for society. He gained his PhD at the Environmental Research Institute of University College Cork, Ireland where he investigated the impact of climate change on aquatic animal health and disease. He is currently working at the CIIMAR Institute, Portugal on the MAELSTROM project for Marine Litter Sustainable Removal and Management. Alongside other Early Career Ocean Professionals from Europe, Brazil, and North America, they formed the All-Atlantic Plastics Pilot Network. This network aims to identify and implement science-based solutions for citizens, policymakers, and businesses with the goal of improving the health of our Ocean ecosystem.

Natalia Ospina-Alvarez

Innovation Manager in Blue Economy and Senior Project Officer

Natalia Ospina-Alvarez (host) is a Marine Geoscientist and Environmental Researcher specialising in Coastal and Marine Systems. She holds a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Barcelona and has participated in more than 15 international research projects with multidisciplinary teams from different countries. Over the last 15 years, she has worked as a researcher at several research institutes and universities in Europe, having the opportunity to address various approaches and methodologies for the analysis and monitoring of trace elements and emerging contaminants in the environment and participating in oceanographic cruises in diverse sea basins. She is an Innovation Manager in Blue Economy & Senior Project Officer at the AIR Centre.