12 Can you solve our plastic problem? The Young Professionals Community Committee (YPCC) are calling for young professionals and students to put themselves forward and help solve the ever-growing issue of plastic pollution, as part of this year’s IET Global Challenge. According to Greenpeace, “our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup” . Part of the problem is single-use plastic, which on a daily basis we momentarily use and throw away. It means huge amounts of plastic, which can take hundreds of years to break down, are entering our oceans. A large proportion of plastic in our oceans is also due to “improperly disposed of rubbish, careless littering and accidental propagation by winds, drains and floods”, says environmental charity GreenSeas Trust. Cigarette butts, for example, contain a form of plastic known as cellulose acetate. This is recyclable, but is ending up in our oceans as people dispose of cigarettes without thought of the environment. Besides washing up on our shorelines, marine birds and wildlife can get entangled in plastic or mistake it for food. It is entering the food chain, including seafood - and we still don’t know the long-term effects of consuming plastic on human health. The YPCC are now giving engineers the opportunity to address plastic pollution by inviting them to take part in the Global Challenge. For the first time, competitors will have a choice of challenges to tackle the different dimensions of the problem - from production of plastic to disposal of plastic waste. The challenges will be held in partnership with Greenpeace and the GreenSeas Trust, so competitors will be showing their solutions to organisations that have the power and influence to make a real difference to plastic pollution. The competition will launch at the IET Innovation Awards ceremony on 14 November 2018. In the meantime, visit our website for more information on the challenges and entry criteria: www.theiet.org/global-challenge Influencing government and society New EngShorts videos address society’s big issues As part of its aim to inspire, inform and influence society on key engineering issues, the IET recently launched EngShorts, a public-focused video campaign that highlights the role of engineering in addressing important challenges. EngShorts consists of an ongoing series of 60-second videos that ask questions around big issues that affect us all and highlight the role of engineering in tackling them. The aim is to boost the IET’s public engagement and thought leadership output, with the added ability to react to media stories in a timely manner. It also gives the IET a new way of demonstrating its public relevance and engaging with a younger audience across social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. The project is being led by the IET’s Strategic Engagement and Partnerships team in collaboration with members, volunteers and other IET departments, allowing for new videos to be released each week. Examples of topics covered so far include: ‘Do we need smart meters’, which explains the longer term benefits of whole-system smart energy management and ‘Should five year olds learn to code?’, which discusses whether we should be encouraging young people to learn digital skills from an earlier age. Another video ‘Do we use too much plastic?’ shows how engineers are playing a vital role in making plastics easier to recycle. To take a look at the videos released so far and be first to see new weekly updates, make sure you follow us on Instagram www.instagram.com/theIET and Facebook www.facebook.com/ TheInstitutionofEngineeringandTechnology. If you have any ideas for future EngShorts topics, please email sep@theiet.org Member News – November 2018 www.theiet.org/member-news