Conference Posters & Presentations




Alexander Cooper   

Assessing the Economic Viability of Solar PV in Egypt

As Egypt’s economy expands and as the population continues to rise, the demand for energy can only increase. The country enjoys an abundant potential for renewables, with a high solar irradiance between 2000-2500 kWh/m2/yr. However, the country’s electricity mix is still dominated by fossil fuel use taking up a nearly a 90% share of capacity. The latest IPCC report has stressed that if we continue down our current trajectory we are likely to surpass the 1.5˚C Paris agreement target between 2030 and 2052. Solar PV is uniquely placed as a key technology to shift towards a decarbonised electricity grid. Costs for solar modules have been declining exponentially, according to BNEF module prices in 2017 were 85% lower compared to 2010. The principle aim of this project is to assess the economic viability and cost-benefit analysis for utility-scale solar PV in Egypt. Additionally, this study projects the future electricity demand and analyses the potential for solar PV has to fill this gap in capacity. Solar can make Egypt less reliant on natural gas and coal imports whilst helping to reach national renewable energy targets. The results from this study can help inform investors of the significant business opportunities for solar development. Furthermore, this study can be replicated in other countries in the Middle East and Africa. Solar is a technology that is quick to install and can be deployed virtually anywhere and is starting to be price competitive against coal, oil and gas.

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Jennifer Grimes       

The Last Of Them: Photographing The North’s Wildlife

The Last of Them aims to spread awareness to the wider public about the animals we have left in the United Kingdom. In the past, the UK was home to animals such as bears, wolves and lynx; however, these have all been wiped out due to our impact upon the environment. Practices such as hunting and housing development decreased their territories, prey, and populations. The project shows what little animals we have left, and why they are important, in the hopes of inspiring individuals to consider taking actions to help save the creatures we have. The work includes, what I believe, are fascinating but easily accessible animals, for example, red deer and squirrels. By providing the audience with location names (mainly around the Leeds area), they are able to see how close we are to such exquisite animals and how easy it would be to seek them out for themselves. I feel that the issues I aim to emphasise are quite topical, as more and more people have been making changes in their lives to try to save our slowly degrading world. The environment, global warming, recycling, and our decreasing wildlife are all recent issues that have been in the media and have been spoken about a great deal. I wanted to take these issues and present them in a format that is not meant as a shock tactic, but more to ease people into the idea that they can create change through their actions.

Rosie Flett    

In what ways and to what extent, can scientific research inform the management of environmental challenges associated with the decline in bee populations?     

Bees help to pollinate 75% of all our crops and one third of our food crops (Tirado et al., 2013). Commercial crop production is becoming increasingly dependent on managed pollinators, the majority being honeybees, and there has been a massive decline (59%) in domestic honeybee colonies from 1985 to 2005 (Potts et al., 2010). Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is diagnosed when the hive is lacking adult worker bees yet there are low levels of parasites (vanEngelsdorp et al., 2009), the causes of CCD are still unknown (Williams et al., 2010). The three main ‘suspects’ of CCD are diseases, industrial agriculture, and climate change (Tirado et al., 2013). All these factors combined provide huge issues for future agriculture. Environmental science can help us better understand the causes of declining bee populations. Using an interdisciplinary approach, environmental scientists combine different systems to understand the overall impact and provide more reliable research (Jones, 2009). This research project explores the main reasons for the recent declines in bee populations, how human action has affected/worsened the decline and how we might be able to support bees in future. My project concluded that there are multiple factors that weaken bee colonies and it is the combination of these factors that has caused the rapid decline of bee populations. These factors have all been brought together or intensified by human activities. This research shows the main reasons for declining bee populations and will hopefully support further research and then mitigation to help support bee populations.

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Shannon Jackson    

Questioning the ‘world’s most liveable city’ status: A deeper look into the inequalities and emission’s impact of Melbourne, Australia’s key “city systems”     

In 2017, Melbourne was given the title of the “world’s most liveable city” for the seventh year running. Amidst the weather, the diversity, the passionate politics, the independent cafes and artisan coffee houses, the beautiful beaches and the stunning wine country, it is not hard to see why. Beyond this utopia, there are surprising social trends and hidden environmental damage being done by this great city, which leads us to question whether it is really creating such a positive vision for the future. During my own research, I’ve delved in the city’s transport system and now I wish to take that exploration further – to look more broadly at key systems like housing, energy, land use and the economy – to get a real understanding of how one of the most talked about global cities is actually impacting its citizens and the world around it. This is important because trends set by Melbourne have national and international weight. It is set to become Australia’s largest city in just over a decade and has been recently ranked as the sixth most influential city in the world.

This status often this comes with prestige that leads us to insufficiently question what the city is doing wrong as well as right, and what issues as well as rewards may come from copying its sustainability practices in new spaces.

Given cities occupy 60% of energy consumption, 70% of GHG emissions, and 70% of global waste patterns, the significance of getting it right in these spaces, is essential.

We, therefore, must take a more critical approach to even our most loved cities; questioning what needs to be critiqued and left behind, as well as taken forward from Melbourne’s example.

Alice Hargreaves (Leeds Arts University)

Transparent Textiles: An investigation into the potential of craftsmanship and natural dyes in contemporary fashion to work towards a more sustainable industry and encourage mindful consumer choices.

With the rise of fast fashion, the textile industry is having a detrimental impact on the environment, from both the production of garments and their disposal. This research project explores the possibility of using natural materials to pattern fabric, bringing traditional craft techniques into contemporary design and limiting the use of toxic, synthetic chemicals, which are harmful to both our health and environment, in addition to exploiting valuable, limited resources. There is a vast rainbow of dye colours available from plants and food waste and with the addition of modifiers and plant-based and mineral mordant, these colours can be altered during the dyeing process to create striking variations in tone, patterning the fabric.

A transition from mass manufacturing to hand processes, such as natural dyeing, and a celebration of craftsmanship and the artisan could stimulate a revival and awareness of craftsmanship and textile education. This project proposes that by increasing the connection between the maker and the wearer, through an insight into and an understanding of the process, this would increase a consumer’s emotional connection to a garment, ultimately giving it longevity and reducing consumerism and waste within the industry. The intention is to encourage consumers to respect and cherish textiles in order to make more mindful fashion choices and work towards a more sustainable and transparent fashion industry whilst showcasing the potential of natural colours and materials to compete with mass manufactured goods.

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Bintang Ekananda, Sukma Impian Riverningtyas and Rizka Trisna Arianti 

#2023PlasticFree Twitter Hashtag: Does it build real action?*

Some researchers confirm social media platforms such as Twitter as potentially powerful technologies for social change, since they allow communities to connect with each other apart of place and space and attain a broader population with their message. For example, they have been examined for ways in which social media platform facilitate information sharing during natural disasters and education, just to name a few applications. Other scholars have examined how networks form and are maintained, how hashtags help to spread and categorise information, and the ways microblog (e.g. Twitter) posts can be used for marketing purposes, intelligence, and disaster mitigation. However, researchers also remain concerned that online “slacktivism” begins and ends with posting online. Therefore, we pick one hashtag community to examine the potential for meaningful action via the building of social capital and network formation on the environmental issue (e.g. plastic pollution). We will conduct a network analysis using Webometric Analyst of Twitter posts tagged with #2023PlasticFree. This study is expected to give an information about a type of interaction within the #2023PlasticFree community that has the potential to encourage social capital and network formation to effect change.

View Bintang, Sukma and Rizka’s presentation

Andrea Aiello and Sijin Saji

Sustainable drainages for sustainable cities*        

Climate change is challenging the already deteriorated relationship between humans and nature. Frequents droughts and floods in cities are putting pressure on the way we manage water.

A more holistic approach to urban water cycle management has been proposed to build a more resilient and sustainable environment.

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) like biofilters are part of this approach. A biofilter is a green area that take advantage of soil and plants property to enhance water quality and provide other, rare in cities, ecosystem services like landscape amenity, ecological niches for animals, mitigate the heat island effect, and give a shared space for communities.

The focus of my research is to intercept and treat urban storm water runoff on-site trough an improved biofilter configuration.

Different plant species will be investigated to assess the design impact and the challenging condition on the growth. The project will assess the capacity of a biofilter to adsorb pollutants like heavy metals and nutrient, that are of major concern for water quality because their bioavailability and the difficulty in their treatment. Different biofilters configuration have unique strength points, and the results are striking with >80% treatment performance for nutrients, that can prevent adverse effects like, for instance, eutrophication on rivers!

The experiments are based in the greenhouse of Bardon Grange and will provide preliminary information on the field test configuration.

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Dominika Dziala (Leeds Arts University)

Is the use of natural dyeing sustainable on a commercial level?          

My project is about using natural dyeing in fashion industry. I researched different techniques of natural dyeing and how the conventional methods impacts the environment. Processes, which are used in textile industry, can be hazardous for people and pollutes waters. There are sustainable ways to colour the fabrics and one of them is natural dyeing. In my practical project, I researched the colour scale that can be gained from plant pigments, which will be covered in a look book. It is important for society to understand that the way they clothes are made is important and to see that there are sustainable alternatives which can look as attractive as the conventional processes.

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Lewis Arnold (Leeds Arts University)

The problem with surfing… An Olympic sport? A counter-culture movement? A spiritual release? A commune with nature?

The act of surfing is always evolving but whatever it is, it’s growing all around the world. You might reckon surfing is duty bound to protect the marine environment that sustains it but unfortunately surfing itself is part of the problem. More surfers means more surfboards, more travel, more rubbish and more threats to the environment. Thriving surf industry brands ignore the uncomfortable truth that boards, wetsuits, fins and leg ropes rely on old design and petrochemicals in their manufacture. Global companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi have used the “cool” of surfing to promote their products since the 50’s whilst making billions of single use plastic bottles every day. Today, plastic pollutes every sea and coastline in the world and despite raised awareness, the situation is forecast to get much worse. Immersed in surfing since the 80’s, earning my keep as a photographer since the 90’s, my MA Creative Practice studies explore themes of environment, escape and sustainability through surf photography. The problem with surfing… looks at some of the problems and the alternatives out there, swapping the stats for reflections and anecdotes from a surfing life.

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Jonathan Teasdale  

Designing a waste-free fashion future

Fashion is the second largest polluting industry in the world.  From the energy used to mill the fabrics, to the harsh chemicals required in the dying processes, to the fuel burned through shipping the product around the world, the clothes that we wear are literally costing us the earth.

The majority of our clothing is produced overseas in developing or Third World countries, and it is in these countries where the consequences of the global fashion industry are most destructive.  The volume of physical pollution, such as chemical waste and fabric scraps, emitted from garment factories per day is in many cases so great that it cannot be disposed of safely.  Critically, this means that lifeline water supplies are polluted with toxic chemicals and landfill sites are filled with non-degradable fabric waste.

My research aims to identify creative and innovative design techniques, which can be applied by designers in order to significantly reduce, and in some cases completely eliminate fabric waste at the production stage.  As well as making garment production more efficient and cost-effective, developing these practices within a business also has the potential to provide new and exciting ways to engage designers.  Furthermore, applying these techniques will directly reduce the amount of waste which factories produce, thus reducing the amount of environmental damage contributed by the fashion industry.

This presentation will therefore discuss the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and how through design, the issue of fabric waste in garment production could be resolved.

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Lewis Charters         

Peat swamp forest conservation withstands pervasive land conversion to oil palm plantation in North Selangor, Malaysia. 

Tropical deforestation remains a major global challenge of the 21st Century, driven largely by the conversion of land for agricultural purposes, such as palm oil production. Malaysia, one of the world’s largest palm oil producers, has seen widespread conversion to oil palm from primary forest, including peat swamp forest (PSF). This study investigates the rate and extent of pervasive oil palm expansion in and around North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest (NSPSF) over the last three decades, exploring how land conversion has affected the region’s tropical forests, and assessing the relative success of PSF conservation measures. Remote sensing was used to assess land cover change and improvement in vegetation condition since 1990, when NSPSF was given protected status. The results show a near tripling in oil palm cover throughout North Selangor, from 24,930 ha in 1989 to 70,070 ha in 2016; meanwhile tropical forest cover shrank from 145,570 ha to 88,400 ha. Despite concerns over the sustainability and environmental impact of such rapid oil palm conversion at a regional level, at the local scale NSPSF represents a relative conservation success story. Effective land stewardship by government and NGO actors has limited illegal encroachment of oil palm around the reserve. PSF rehabilitation measures have also markedly improved vegetation condition in NSPFS’s interior. These findings have broad significance for how oil palm agriculture is managed, especially for PSF stewardship and conservation. The approaches described here may be usefully adopted elsewhere in Southeast Asia and around the world.

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Lorna Robey (Leeds Arts University)

Who Made Your Feminist Tee?     

This project explores the rise in ‘trendy’ feminism and its trickle down to the high street, where ‘feminist’ slogan tees are sold by retailers, which employ majority female garment workers in overseas factories with unsafe or inhumane conditions and pay them a minute fraction of the retail price of the garment.

It explores the hypocrisies involved when high street retailers who count on and perpetuate female insecurity and unsustainable consumerist attitudes through the fast fashion cycle, advertising and in-build obsolescence, begin to profit from aligning themselves, at least aesthetically, with a feminist stance.

In response to the research undertaken for this project, illustrations were created which aim to be shareable on social media, to begin conversations and highlight the hypocrisies of such businesses profiting from a feminist stance. These illustrations have been shared numerous times since and are allowing such conversations to be held on social media and in person and the aim is to be able to increase consumer awareness by drawing attention to the harm that is done disguised under the image of feminism.

Ruth Trainor 

What would the economy look like if organisations prioritised people over profits?

The current economic model is causing widespread environmental destruction and more money is not making people any happier. Some academics believe the root of this issue is the focus on GDP growth, because infinite growth on a finite planet just does not seem to add up. To counter this growth-mania, some have suggested an economy that prioritises measuring success in terms other than GDP and growth – a post-growth economy. As part of this, it is important that we have fewer resources going into, being used up, and spat out of the economy. There has been a lot of high-level thinking on what changes would need to happen at a political and institutional level to make this happen. However, there is not much research into what changes need to happen within organisations.

Social enterprises may be a type of organisation that are able to meet the aims of a post-growth economy (fewer resources used and happy people). They have an explicit social and/or environmental purpose, tend to be more locally orientated, and their decision-making is based on democracy rather than who owns the most shares. My research looks into whether this is actually the case. From there, I examine the ways social enterprises align with the post-growth idea of a sustainable economy, and the ways in which we can make them more compatible.

This project aims to provide the theoretical base for making a sustainable organisation, economy and society.

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Solveig Roraas         

A Mental Transition from Ego to Eco: Why we need a Deep Ecological Approach to Achieve Sustainability

What is sustainability? I have studied deep ecological sustainability, and how it might trigger behavioural change, so that we manage to stay within the 1.5-degrees target. I am seeking to understand the problems of our current relationship with nature, and the solutions needed to achieve sustainability. Deep ecology is an apolitical approach, which can evoke compassionate values, and thus may trigger individual behavioural change. However, research alone is unlikely to inspire individual change. Therefore, effective communication built on psychological studies should link research to practice.

Deep ecologists argue that the ‘light green’ sustainability approaches, which rely exclusively on technological solutions, only scratch the surface of our environmental challenge. Instead, deep ecologists emphasise that we need to reconnect with nature and find the balance of well-being and happiness for all living organisms on planet Earth. However, this approach has struggled with gaining respect in academia. I argue that sustainability research could advance with deep ecological sustainability, because academia currently lacks the emotional and spiritual aspects. The deep ecological perspective emphasises that we need a mental transition from ego to eco, because as Wendell Berry* says: “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all the most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope.”

*Berry, W. in Vaughan-Lee, L. 2013. Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth. California: The Golden Sufi Center, p. iv.

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Kimenju Edna Fay Nyathira

Sustainability in the Events Industry. Case study: 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Events ranging from conferences through concerts to sports events are an important part of our day-to-day life, that is corporate and entertainment circles of life respectively. The events industry has experienced a momentous boom in demand and popularity over the past few decades. This has led to substantial growth of events’ frequency and capacity. For the more international, mega-events events, the promise for significant economic opportunities has appealed to host nations, cities and communities. However, at the same time, a lot of questions arise in how do we mitigate the negative and enhance the positive impact of events on people and environment?

This research is based on the recent 2018 Men’s World Cup in Russia. It explores some of the strategies adopted to meet the sustainability principles, that is, the nine key issues and 25 related performance objectives, as stated in the Sustainability Strategy. It aims to examine the sustainability performance objectives from the perspective of a sustainability function area volunteer. This includes compliance with the FIFA applicable environmental protection requirements, effective waste management processes, provisions for persons with disabilities and the impact of Football for Hope events.

By analysing what strategies worked and what did not, we can recommend strategies that would cut across various events in the industry while attempting

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Anna Sinyangwe      

Sustainability in Dentistry; A Student Perspective.        

The UK government made a legal commitment in the Climate Change Act (2008) to reduce carbon emissions by 26% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

Climate change has an adverse impact on health, and the healthcare sector is duty bound to react to this health threat; especially considering that the carbon footprint from NHS England services in 2015 was approximately 22.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents.

The General Dental Council, the regulatory body for dental health professionals, requires them to manage patient care in a holistic way, and to work with colleagues to put patients’ interests first. This would extend the duty of the dental profession to respond to the health threat of climate change also.

Currently, the topic of sustainability in dentistry is not part of the curriculum for undergraduate programmes at the University of Leeds Dental School.

This project explores both dental healthcare students’ level of awareness of sustainability in healthcare, and their attitudes towards incorporating teaching on sustainability in dentistry into their courses.

If teaching is implemented, then:

– Awareness of sustainability development within the NHS will be raised.

– Students are given an understanding that part of the holistic care of patients includes environmentally responsible clinical activity.

– Students may become more open to the changes in dental practice, which aim to meet carbon emission reduction targets.

– A future workforce of dental healthcare professionals would be given the ability to make sustainable choices in their daily working lives.

Sophia Nicolov         

Extinction, Success Stories and Shifting Baselines: The 1999-2000 Eastern North Pacific Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robustus) Unusual Mortality Event           

Between 1999 and 2000, 651 eastern North Pacific gray whales were discovered stranded on the Pacific shorelines of North America and Mexico. The deaths were declared an ‘unusual mortality event’ and the strandings were believed to be part of a wider population decline of around a third. This research investigates the complex of scientific and wider societal responses to and understandings of the mortality event. It examines how this species has come to be associated with extinction and vulnerability as a legacy of whaling and how the population rebound was framed as a ‘conservation success story’. It considers the ways in which both scientists and lay people have sought answers to this mortality event, what the strandings reveal about cause (or causes) of death, and the impact of humans on cetaceans and the ocean more widely. I analyse the ways in which popular observations are informed by and diverge from contemporary scientific information and how scientific knowledge changes over time. Finally, I explore what the implications of this might be for the management of marine mammal populations and understandings of shifting baseline syndrome. From this research, I will gain greater understanding of how significant the different discourses surrounding whale species are to conservation efforts and the broader global discussion of anthropogenic threats to the oceans. I believe that this research will have an impact on the way that we think about marine ecosystems, animals and conservation by revealing how scientific and popular cultural interpretations intersect and act in symbiosis.

Hazel Mooney          

Valuing the City’s Trees: An Evaluation of CAVAT and I-Tree Assessments for Quantifying the Ecosystem Services of Trees *        

‘Ecosystem services’ are physical, environmental and cultural services provided by nature that benefit people (Dallimer et al., 2012). Trees can benefit us by regulating the climate, filtering atmospheric pollutants, providing habitats, materials, foods and medicine. Researchers propose the concept of ‘natural capital’: putting economic value on natural systems to justify environmental decision-making (Spangenberg & Settele, 2010).

This study used two methods to measure 300 trees across Leeds, capturing their contribution to the environment and local community. The work was part of the Leeds Sustainability Service Living Lab project. The i-Tree assessment measured uptake of atmospheric pollutants, contribution to flood avoidance and canopy cover (I-tree tools, 2018) and the CAVAT assessment measured the trees’ amenity value (Doick et al., 2018); their positive and negative attributes of accessibility, location, health and aesthetics. Questionnaires were also used to investigate how important these services were to the public and assess their appreciation of trees.

This research has the potential to have societal impacts. Data analysis may enable us to draw conclusions about what makes trees valuable to the environment and public; informing future tree management. Through understanding how the public interacts with and appreciates trees, this research could inform forest valuation methods; informing local and national policy and practice, whilst supporting the ecosystem services and maximising amenity benefits. Further, this project may demonstrate the importance of public participation in sustainability. Stakeholder opinions here may inform sustainable forest management, with implications for wellbeing, the economy and the environment.

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Duaa Raja     

Unconventional methods of heating: developing greener processes using radiofrequency

On the basis of green chemistry principles, the use and design of environmentally benign processes possessing features such as high activity, selectivity, and recovery are urgently needed.

Additionally, with the increasing demand to develop greener processes, the use of non-traditional energy sources particularly in the form of radiofrequency heating has gained much attention recently as it presents a more effective method of heating in contrast to conventional forms. Also, the integration of magnetic properties in the catalyst not only allows for a simple magnetic separation but heat to be generated within the catalyst bed.

This study focuses on optimisation of the reaction stage in fine chemical and pharmaceutical manufacture using this technology. The design of the catalyst is just one aspect of enhancing the efficiency of reactions, which would have a significant effect on the economics of the whole process by avoiding usage of extreme temperature and pressures. Even an improvement in selectivity as small as 1% can result in many additional tonnes of product leading to profits especially in industries as large as chemical manufacturing which is estimated to be worth £5bn in 2018-19 in UK alone. As the reactor is the centre of a chemical process, optimisation of this stage is of significance as it has a direct impact on the subsequent operations such as the product purification which can not only contribute up to 30% of the final product cost, but also produce harmful waste and end up being energy intensive which ultimately leads to increased emissions.

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Alexander Lockwood          

Decommissioning of Spent Nuclear Fuel Ponds

Nuclear energy is a key part of the UK strategy to reduce carbon emissions as part of its Paris Agreement obligations. However, issues of decommissioning and fuel management still haunt the industry. Water treatment, whether it be civil or industrial, prolifically generates Secondary Waste Sludges (SWS) in treatment processes like ion precipitation. The UK Nuclear industry has over 50 years’ worth of legacy fuel burned in the atomic weapons era which has been stored in large open-air ponds and silos resulting in over 1700m3 of magnesium hydroxide based SWS developing from derelict conditions and poor pond chemistry maintenance. These ponds and silos are self-confessed as being in the top 3 most hazardous facilities in Europe and are subject to aggressive risk and hazard reduction projects in the order of Billions of pounds. Given the cost of disposal per cubic meter of this waste in a geological disposal facility is currently estimated in the order of tens of thousands of pounds, efficient dewatering is vital to reduce the volumetric burden on the taxpayer and minimise environmental impact.

This research investigates the use of non-trivial co-block hydrophobic-hydrophilic polymers in sedimentation and also dissolved air floatation, a process that has generated an estimated $36 billion (Aus) for the Australian economy in coal extraction since its development and can be potentially modified and retrofitted as a rapid and effective dewatering process for the treatment of nuclear waste suspensions.

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Mustafa Alsalmi and Thomas Barker        

Sustainable manufacturing process to produce metallic glass

Bulk metallic glass is one of the unique materials, which is used in many of application in our daily life such as waterproof cell phone casing, medical tools and semiconductor ships. There are many process routes for producing bulk metallic glass such as physical vapour deposition, splat quenching and ion implantation. However, all of those process routes have many environmental and human health impacts because of the waste generated by the process and the raw materials used in the process. These include the production of high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, high power requirements (at least 21.5MW per day) and the raw materials (e.g. Ni and Nb) have high toxicity for animals and humans. We have discovered a new process route to produce bulk metallic glass by mechanical alloying, which combines melt-solidification and hot rolling. After that, rotary ball milling was used to produce elemental powders generated by renewable energy sources (wind farm). The final product is then created by powder injecting moulding. In this process, there is a less regular need for transportation of raw materials and the finished product again lowering the necessity of burning fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gasses. Because of the high demand of bulk metallic glass and the high market value of metallic glass (£53.54 billion), we strongly believe that using our sustainable manufacturing process we can reduce (Materials, Methods, Machining, Men and Money) with savings in labour and energy when compared with the present technology.

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Alka Thakker

Sustainable Arts And Crafts          

Old Is Gold. In this research, the ancient Vedic concepts of sustainability are revived. Here we focus in on handmade paper, manually processed from used cloths, waste paper or secondary plant fibres. Handmade paper varieties are discussed as one of the best prospective replacements for plastics with wide end use for arts and crafts, wraps and packs, in medicinal and in day to day utility products.

This research discusses a scientific approach to refuting the issue of climate pollution and waste disposal, involving TOF-SIMS Analysis, plasma treatment, new eco design developments and natural colour cataloguing.

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David Burt    

Single-use plastic reduction at higher education institutions in the UK: motivation and best practice*

With the aid of media attention, particularly the BBC’s Blue Planet II series, single-use plastic has rapidly become one of the most topical environmental issues in the UK. The challenge of reducing single-use plastic has been taken up by numerous institutions, including many of the UK’s universities. However, this is by no means an easy task with single-use plastic at universities being both ubiquitous and embedded in everyday practices. Additionally, many alternatives are still under development and even those that are commercially available have raised questions regarding how ‘green’ they really are. This study aims to investigate the measures that universities in the UK have taken to reduce single-use plastic consumption, what has been the motivation for change, and what best practices have been established. Ideally, this will further facilitate the spread of best practice to benefit other institutions in implementing their own single-use plastic reduction schemes.

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Jane Wilson   (Leeds Arts University)

Raising awareness of the impact of sustainable farming practices through visual art

The research involves how to raise awareness of the impact of sustainable farming practices through visual art. The research centres on a small tenant farm in North Yorkshire that is part of the Stewardship Scheme promoted and funded through the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy. The funding allows the farmer to follow sustainable practices that have a positive impact on the local environment in particular supporting wild birds by creating the optimal habitat for nesting and feeding. This includes planting and maintaining hedges, creating wildflower meadows, leaving stubble in the fields after ploughing and growing maize over winter. This is a Research through Practice project using Action Research methodology, with distinct lines of enquiries. The research includes interviews with the tenant farmers on the benefits and challenges of the scheme; recording collective memories of the local community; interviews with the Royal Society for Protection of Birds who conduct annual surveys of the farm; site visits to photograph, record sounds and sketch; exploring how contemporary artists raise awareness of sustainability; and analysing whether art can help to change behaviour. The finished piece will be in textiles and mixed media, created using sustainable techniques including hand-dyeing fabric with natural materials found on the farm, buying materials from local shops and recycling fabric from charity shops. The project will be shared with the farming community to encourage adoption of similar practices and with possible future funders as funding may no longer be available once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Muhammad Wathon

From zero to hero: Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry) skin waste as a sustainable source of natural colorants     

Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott, commonly known as black chokeberry, is native to eastern North America. The berries contain anthocyanins in high concentrations and has a particularly simple anthocyanin profile compared to other anthocyanin-containing berries. Anthocyanin content in A. melanocarpa skin is found to be higher than in the juice, which a key part of the plant’s strategy to protect the seeds from the UV radiation and harmful insects. The raw material used herein is waste of A. melanocarpa skins generated as a by-product following pressing of the berries for the production of Aronia fruit juice, and is usually disposed of without any further treatment. This raw material represents a potential natural, sustainable and renewable resource.

Anthocyanins present in A. melanocarpa skin waste can potentially be valorised through a suitable extraction process. Solid-liquid extraction is a classical technique to recover anthocyanins from natural resources. This method is nevertheless not very selective because many other molecules are typically co-extracted along with anthocyanins. Solid phase extraction (SPE) may be employed as an additional step to purify and separate selected analytes from co-extracted compounds.

The purpose of the research is to develop and optimise the extraction and purification of anthocyanins from A. melanocarpa waste skins using a batch method and to compare the yield and quality obtained with a new integrated extraction-adsorption method. The bright colours given by anthocyanins, suggest the most likely utilisation of these compounds is as natural colorants.

Nicola Wood 

Microalgae for Energy Production and Nutrient Recycling       

Microalgae are unicellular aquatic organisms that have gained interest for their ability to produce oil which can be processed to produce biodiesel. However, the production of microalgal biofuels is not currently feasibly owing largely to the cost of cultivation.

Microalgae can also accumulate large concentrations of nutrients, notably nitrogen and phosphorous, which are essential as agricultural fertilisers. Current production of nitrogen fertiliser is through the Haber-Bosch process, an energy intensive process whereby atmospheric nitrogen (N2) and hydrogen (H2) are combined to make ammonia (NH3). In contrast phosphorous is mined, from finite sources of rock phosphate, and imported from only a handful of countries worldwide. Despite our reliance on these nutrients and the currently unsustainable means by which we obtain them, nearly 90% of the nutrients we use as fertiliser are later lost though wastewater treatment processes due to agricultural run-off and the treatment of nutrient rich sewage.

This project looks at cultivating microalgae within a wastewater treatment system whereby the microalgae cannot only be used to produce oil as a potential source of transport fuel but can also be used to recycle valuable nutrients from the wastewater. Using wastewater additionally provides a free source of nutrients and water for the cultivation of microalgae thereby significantly reducing costs. Specifically, we are investigating the growth conditions required to optimise the accumulation of oil and nutrients within microalgal cells.

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Hetasha Prakash Gopalani 

Tree, our original super hero – To what extent can the reimplementation of agroforestry can contribute to future demands of the UK?

Agroforestry is an ancient land use that combines crops (silvo-arable) and livestock (silvo-pastoral). This improves biodiversity and soil quality, which can positively affect the storage of CO2 and other compounds in terrestrial land (fossil, soil), water and air. Agroforestry may also potentially improve sustainability through the changes of the carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and water cycles. Two decades post industrialisation, land use for agriculture has decreased. One of the aims for the UK is to modify land use to meet demands of the higher future population and adjust to climate change by gradually developing woodland areas, however, agroforestry sites are lacking. At present, arable and horticultural are the most common agriculture types alongside livestock and dairy farming.

The aim of this research is to find out the extent of the environmental benefits of implementing agroforestry and how it will affect other aspects such as food production and economy to contribute to fulfilling specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at UK level.

Carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in soils of woodlands and arable lands of the UK will be compared to ocean acidity and air composition data from pre-industrial periods (before 1960s) This comparison to assess data from agroforestry sites in the UK to see will confirm if it would help to contribute to the environmental and social SDGs of the UK by comparing it against social statistics such as anthropogenic emissions, food production, and economic impacts on various stakeholders.

View Nicola’s presentation

Oonagh Corr (Leeds Arts University)

Does Basketry, as an Art Form, have a Role in Connecting us to the Issues Concerning Our Planet?           

While the basket remains utile and culturally important in some parts of the world, the 20th century advent of plastic and other materials has meant that its stake as a purely functional object has ended.

The purpose of this study is to examine whether basketry as an art form has a role in connecting us to the natural world and ergo, to the issues concerning it? With the recent incorporation of basketry into my work and from the ‘artist’s responsibility’ standpoint, this is a particularly pertinent enquiry.

My research examines the theoretical underlay of my practice: the all-encompassing Biophilia Hypothesis parenting Sustainability, Health & Well-being and the notion of Ecstatic Places and how they substantiate the role of basketry [art form] as a connective to the issues facing the natural world. My approach has been largely practice based, harnessing skills, which have been, applied in particular case studies. These case studies provide insight into the role that basketry might have, within a creative practice informed by these theories and other concepts.

Mathilde Francois-Downey

(M)eating our way to extinction

Ever thought about your steak’s environmental or social impact? I am here to tell you about it and inform you of the large contribution that the animal produce and meat industry make to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental issues. Animal agriculture is responsible for about 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation, water and land use, environmental degradation, habitat destruction, greenhouse gases emissions, waste, soil damage and more, are all related to the production of meat and other animal produce.

I also will explain the resource allocation problem the industry presents. The amount of resources going into meat production is considerable. Concurrently, there are still millions of people around the globe who do not enough, as they should. A third of global crops are fed to cattle which itself feeds very few people. Would it not make more sense to feed these crops directly to people, in particular, those who need it the most?

This is a growing issue as western diets are aspired by many around the globe. The world population and the middle class are growing at an incredible rate. We need to feed more people with fewer resources. This is not compatible with meat-intensive diets.

I hope to raise awareness of these issues and present solutions. Agriculture being the second sector contributing the most emissions, achieving change in this area would lead to very positive impacts. I will present the differences between meat-based and plant-based diets, looking at environmental, social but also health aspects.

View Mathilde’s presentation

Christopher Smith   

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) applied to the University of Leeds campus*

Chris hopes to demonstrate what could be done on campus site to contribute to reducing urban runoff from impermeable surfaces – pathways, roads, and to highlight what modifications can be made to traditional urban drainage design.

The University of Leeds as an evolving campus, with new developments currently ongoing and Chris would like to raise awareness of water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) and positively contribute to the conversation.

An integral part of any new WSUD would be gross pollutant traps, to catch plastics and surface debris that would otherwise be sent to drainage.

Chris hopes that the research could form part of a wider research project to understand the impact of efforts to enhance WSUD on sites/suburbs/industrial estates and similar urban infrastructure for the City of Leeds.

View Chris’s presentation

Caitlin Fox    

The key threats to mires, peatlands and their diversity, and the potential loss to human wellbeing as a result 

Often thought of as desolate, peatlands and mire, otherwise known as bogs, are waterlogged wetlands fed only by rainfall (Lindsay et al., 2014). Although you can walk on them, bogs are 95% water, and “there are more solids in a pint of milk” (Lindsay, 1993). They can be over 30 meters deep, holding peat and undecomposed materials. Not only do bogs support an extensive range of flora and fauna, but they also contain the UK’s largest accumulated terrestrial carbon store. Despite the important role, this fragile ecosystem is suffering from a number of anthropogenic impacts, such as palm oil plantations, pollution and burning. Only 18% of bogs are near natural, over 50% no longer have actively peat-forming vegetation and the rest are so severely damaged they are close to catastrophic collapse (Lindsay et al. 2014). Due to this, the UK’s peat bogs are releasing 700,000 household’s worth of CO2 per year, whilst cultivation of bogs in Indonesia make it the third largest contributor to climate pollution behind the USA and China (Greenpeace, 2007).

Bogs are usually overlooked despite having equal to, if not more important than tropical rainforests. By this presentation, I hope to raise awareness of them, and provoke further consideration into responsible consumerism and how it affects further afield than popular media topics.

View Caitlin’s presentation

Adil Ashraf, Christopher J. Smith

Black soldier fly: A modern way for bio-waste processing       

Organic waste also called bio-waste is decomposable and can break down to simpler elements like carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen under suitable conditions. Uncontrolled dumping of this type of waste poses a threat to nature due to the production of methane gas and leachate during decomposition. One threatens the atmospheric environment while later poses danger to underground water bodies. It also requires large pieces of lands for dumping. As land is becoming scarce in large cities with higher costs, different methods to treat this component of waste have become more important.

Black soldier fly larvae, BSFL (Hermetia Illucens) can use to treat organic waste and convert it to some stable matter like compost. The residue after treatment is richer in nitrogen and phosphorus than the input waste. Ability to handle the organic waste fraction that is a major component of the solid waste would make the settlements cleaner. In case, if decentralized (satellite/household level) systems could be established and organic waste could be handled at the source, all nuisance related to waste dumping on streets and its spill during transportation and large land requirement at the disposal sites would be minimised. Furthermore, use of BSFL method has a promising economic potential for communities. In case of smaller semi-rural or rural communities, waste transportation to some large-scale facility involves a lot of transportation costs. Any ability to handle this waste at its source and its conversion to soil conditioner or compost or protein has dual benefit for the community.

*Leeds Living Lab 

Sessions highlighted with an asterisk (*) align with Leeds Living Lab criteria; projects which use the University of Leeds campus as a testbed for research with impact. Find out more about Living Lab at

Sustainable Development Goals 

All student presentations align with one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Find out more about the SDGs at


University of Leeds Student Sustainability Conference 2018: Shaping the Future

The University of Leeds’ second Student Sustainability Conference will be taking place on Thursday 8th February, 2018. The overarching theme for this year is ‘Shaping the Future’, bringing students, staff, businesses and members of the public together to experience the diversity of Undergraduate and Postgraduate work which reflect aspects of positive social, economic and environmental development.

The conference is open for all to attend. University of Leeds students from all schools and faculties, from Undergraduate to PhD level, are welcome to apply to present their work. Please click the ‘applications’ box below, or take a look at last year’s conference to see what unfolded!

Building from last years conference, this is an event not to be missed; an opportunity to experience the latest sustainability research and projects taking place at Leeds, to network, collaborate and develop meaningful contacts, and broaden your insight of disciplines and the challenges they face in a changing world. Expect to see updates from local projects on campus as part of the Living Lab programme, research taking place across the Leeds city region, and wider international sustainability projects having impacts across the globe.

For more information please visit the Conference Webpage.

Student Conference on Sustainable Futures 2017


Check out the Conference Report 2017



“I really liked the mix of students and staff coming together.”

                                      “It was great to see so many different, forward looking perspectives!”

“Whoever organised the food deserves a medal! x3”

                                      “Great presentations and excellent discussions. I feel inspired. Thank you!  

A huge thank you to all the student presenters and delegates who attended the conference! It was fantastic to see such a diverse turn out, and we look forward to continuing the conversations and the future conferences to come.


Conference FAQs


When is the Student Sustainability Conference?
The conference will be taking place on Thursday 8th February 2018. 

Where is it taking place?
The conference is being held across Parkinson Court, Baines Wing and The Great Hall. All rooms are wheelchair accessible and will be sign posted on the day. Once submissions are confirmed, room information will be published in the delegate handbook, available on the main conference page.

Who is the conference for?
The conference is aimed at all who have an interest in sustainability and innovative ideas on how we shape an environmentally, socially and economically positive society. Students are invited to present their curricular projects or research at the conference, but we also invite non-presenting students, staff and members of the public to attend! Registration will be made live once student presenters are confirmed (early December).

What will the conference be about?
The multi-disciplinary event covers a broad spectrum of topics from biodiversity, climate change and food security to social equality, policy and economic challenges, and urban development. A delegate handbook will be produced detailing the subject areas that students research will be covering.

What are the benefits of presenting my work?

  • Verbal and visual presentation experience
  • Experience in communicating your work to a non- specialist audience
  • Chance to network, spark discussions, collaborate and broaden your insight.
  • Awards for best oral, poster and performance presentations.
  • Its free! 

I want to apply to present my work. Where do I start?
Read our entry and submission guidelines and decide on how your work would be best presented at the conference. All presenters, aside from those submitting art pieces or performances, are asked to create an academic poster, but you also have the opportunity to do a 10 minute oral presentation too! The next step is to then complete our application form and send it to before Midnight, Sunday 3rd December. 

How do I know if my research aligns with the conference theme?
Projects will be accepted on the basis of having some element of positive benefit to the future sustainability of society. Sustainability is a broad, cross-disciplinary subject and so the vast majority of submissions will qualify. Take a look at last year’s submissions to see how diverse projects can be. 

What format will the oral presentations take?
Students will have 10 minutes to present their work to a non-specialist audience using accompanying slides if they wish (Powerpoint, PDF, Prezi etc). This will then be followed by ten minutes of questions and discussions. Please read the entry and submission guidelines for more information.

I have never done an oral presentation before, where can I go for advice?
Take a look at Skills@Library’s useful information on presentation practice and delivery.

What is the cost to attend?
The conference is free to attend for both presenters and delegates.

Will lunch be provided?
A vegan buffet lunch will be served for all presenters and delegates on the day. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes Conference: A Sustainable Future for Fashion & Textiles

The Emperor’s New Clothes is an annual event which brings together the fashion and textiles community to discuss the multifaceted challenge of sustainability. It provides a space to discover forward-thinking ideas and initiatives, forge new connections, and have a frank debate about the scale and pace of change in the industry.

This 2016 conference will take place on Thursday 8 September at the University of Leeds. We are delighted to announce that our keynote speaker is Kate Fletcher, Professor of Sustainability, Design, Fashion at London College of Fashion.

The theme for this year’s event is ‘Leverage Points’, which builds on the insights of influential systems thinker Donella Meadows. We are inviting speakers and delegates to consider the ambition, scale and impact of their work: where are the opportunities for maximum leverage in transforming the fashion system?

EAUC Annual Conference

This year, the University of Leeds are proud to be hosting the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC) Annual Conference.  This year’s theme, ‘Challenging Connections’ aims to inspire and challenge tertiary education to look again at our connections, our partnerships and the voices we are hearing and those we are not.  For more information please visit: