Plastics in Construction : Issues, Impacts and Alternatives

28Feb 2019

The ASBP’s third annual conference and exhibition will explore ‘Plastics in Construction – Issues, Impacts and Alternatives’.

Human health and planetary health are by very definition inter-related…we can’t have one without the other. Since the BBC’s Blue Planet II, the UK has woken up to the problem of plastic in the environment, with some commentators even suggesting that plastic is a greater threat to the planet than climate change. Anti-plastic has rapidly become a popular cause-celebre championed by all mainstream media. So, how should the built environment industry respond? Is the problem limited to single use packaging or are all plastic products a problem to which we must find alternatives?

Our conference will bring together expert thinkers and doers to focus on the thorny challenge of plastic. As usual for an ASBP event, we will take a holistic view by exploring the impacts of plastic products on the health of people, and the planet.

Why plastics?

The impacts and implications of our use of plastic in construction are just beginning to be understood. These impacts span across the whole life cycle from extraction, manufacturing, to toxicity and fire e.g. hydrogen cyanide and continue through to end of life.

The construction industry is the second largest user of plastic, with 20% of plastic waste coming from the construction sector. It is estimated we produce globally 300MT of plastic annually with 50% of this being single use. Piping and conduit are the largest users of polymers in construction and consume 35% of production.

ASBP is not advocating a ‘plastic-free’ built environment. We are a material agnostic organisation who champions optimum outcomes for sustainability. However, we do advocate an approach that wherever possible the use of plastic products in construction should be confined to specialist high value, low volume application areas such as binders, seals, tapes, gaskets and services.



9.00 Registration, refreshments and exhibition

Session 1: Understanding the context and problem - The effects of plastics on our environment and health

10:00 Simon Corbey - Associate Director, ASBP - Welcome from the Chair

10:10 Professor Stephen Holgate - Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology and special adviser on air quality to the Royal College of Physicians

We are delighted to welcome back Professor Stephen Holgate who will update us on his technical working group on indoor air quality.

10:30 Professor Sean Smith, Director of Sustainable Construction, Edinburgh Napier University

Professor Sean Smith will cover the impacts of plastics through the life course: What are the numbers, what are the issues and risks? What quantity is single use plastic? What are the big users; and what are the alternatives?

10:55 Emily Penn - eXXpedition founder, Parley for the Oceans and Sky Ocean Rescue Ambassador

Emily Penn is an oceans advocate, skipper and Cambridge University Architecture graduate. Emily splits her time between running eXXpedition - a series of all female voyages which focus on the relationship between plastics and toxics and female health - and working on solving the ocean plastics issue with Parley for the Oceans.

11:15 Exhibitor products showcase

15 product suppliers and manufacturers will be given 2 minutes each to showcase their products and update us on their journeys to using the less plastic in their products and processes.

11:45 Refreshments and exhibition

12.15 Dr. Stephanie Wright - Research Associate, King's College London

Dr. Stephanie Wright will update us on her research into microplastics - microscopic pieces of degraded plastic which are a known marine contaminant with harmful impacts. Her research aims to capture and identify potential microplastics in air samples and, if of inhalable size, estimate human exposure levels and health impacts.

12:35 Martin Gettings - Group Head of Sustainability, Canary Wharf Group PLC

13:00 Lunch, networking and exhibition

Session 2: The journey to less plastic; what are the steps and the alternatives?

14:00 Dr. John Williams - Technical Director, BBIA

Dr. John Williams is an expert in bio-based and biodegradable industries and will discuss the the latest innovations in bio-plastics.

14:20 Kris Karslake - Sustainability Manager, BAM Construct UK

Kris Karslake is BAM's Senior Environmental Advisor and will update us on their journey to measure and reduce plastic consumption.

14:40 Ben Humphries - Director, Architype

Ben Humphries is a Director for leading sustainable architect practice Architype. Ben will discuss how the practice as developed low plastic, low carbon specifications on its projects, such as at the Enterprise Centre at University of East Anglia.

15:00 Speaker TBC

Should the environment act as a plastic sink?

15:20 Refreshments and exhibition

Session 3: Plastics and Performance

15:50 Scott Pearce - Operational Policy and Development, Kent Fire and Rescue Service

Scott Pearce will discuss the topic of exposure to fire and toxicity in buildings; and how fire and rescue services are mitigating exposure to toxic substances. Scott will also give overview of cancer rates for fire fighters; can this be linked directly to toxic substance exposure? Finally, Scott will update us on the work of the National Contaminants Forum, hosted by the Home Office.

16:10 Professor Anna Stec - Fire Chemistry and Toxicity, University of Central Lancashire

We are also delighted to welcome back Professor Anna Stec, one of the leading experts on fire chemisty & toxicity and an expert witness for the Grenfell Tower inquiry.

16.30 Gary Newman - Executive Chair, ASBP

ASBP Executive Chair Gary Newman will conclude the conference and will ask the question - "What should the next steps be for the UK construction industry?".

17.00 ASBP Awards Ceremony

Short presentations from the six shortlisted projects followed by an audience vote and judge's winner announcement.

18.00 Drinks and networking

19.30 Close

 London South Bank University     28/02 - 28/02/2019
Moderated by : La rédaction C21

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