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Our research supports a more sustainable planet by creating a shared understanding, identifying opportunities, and bringing people together.

Two bottles of water, one with clear water in and the other with blue water in

Waste as a resource

With the global population thriving, the human race is producing more waste than ever. For example, most municipal solid waste generated globally is concentrated in low-income countries, and around 90% of this waste is disposed of in hazardous, unregulated dumps or openly burned. These poor waste management practices heavily pollute the air, water, and soil in nearby vulnerable communities and ecosystems. In high-income countries, a substantial portion of municipal solid waste is diverted into landfills, which are expensive and highly engineered but can be sources of emerging contaminants. Globally, both management practices exhibit lost economic opportunities, as valuable energy and resources are wasted, meaning, there is an opportunity to improve the sustainability of municipal solid waste management worldwide.

Dr Rebecca Harrison talking to a woman, with posters of the project in the background

The Environmental Impact of Filmmaking

In our digital age of movie and television consumption, the language we use to talk about engaging with moving images has transformed. We ‘stream’ shows. Images are projected onto ‘green’ screens. Many of us who use computers – filmmakers, broadcasters, and audiences alike – store files on the ‘cloud.’ With digital’s organically coded vocabulary evoking water and air, the harmful mass production of analogue technologies, such as plastic film strips and DVDS, might seem like a relic from the past.

Man wearing a high viz jacket, measuring carbon in a forest

Combatting the climate crisis on campus

The Open University is giving over part of its Milton Keynes campus to an ecosystem regeneration project to address the sustainability challenges facing our society by capturing carbon from the atmosphere and boosting biodiversity.

Arial shot of the Rupunini River weaving through the rainforest

Supporting Indigenous sustainability solutions

The Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in sustaining life on Earth. Estimates suggest its rich biodiversity stores the equivalent of 10 years of global fossil fuel emissions. But deforestation, illegal mining and climate change threaten its existence and the lives of the 30 million people who call it home. OU researchers are supporting Indigenous communities fighting these sustainability challenges.

Transforming attitudes about the health of our oceans

Research scientists in The Open University’s School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences helped shape the content and direction of the landmark BBC series Blue Planet II, which prompted unprecedented public and government action to protect our oceans.

Giving SMEs the tools they need to grow greener

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have a vital role in our efforts to tackle the Climate Emergency. Their combined environmental impact is more significant than the big corporations, but they are much more varied, less well-resourced and often harder to reach. So how can governments, and other agencies, ensure that such a large and diverse population of organisations can become more sustainable? Professor Richard Blundel and his colleagues have drawn on cross-disciplinary research insights to create new tools and techniques that will enable SMEs to ‘grow greener’.

From space science and submarines to Scotch Whisky

How can understanding the secrets of the universe help make submarines safer, ensure Scotch Whisky's provenance and 'sniff out' new fragrances? Dr Geraint Morgan explains all.

Capturing the secrets of the Universe

Dr David Hall discusses The Open University Centre's for Electronic Imaging’s pioneering work on technologies that allow us to explore even the darkest corners of the cosmos and are making the UK a leader in space research.

The centuries-old solution to today's sustainability challenges

Professor David Gowing and colleagues are using their research to unlock the potential of an ancient nature-based agricultural solution to tackle today’s sustainability challenges.