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University of Nottingham lights up Periodic Table for Chemistry Week

Monday, 25 November 2019

The University of Nottingham lit up in support of Chemistry Week on Friday as part of the International Year of the Periodic Table.

The eye-catching display saw the Periodic Table come alive across the campus as it joined 11 leading UK universities across the UK to highlight a serious issue – the threat to a growing number of elements through a lack of recycling old tech devices.

Research carried out by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), in a recent Ipsos MORI survey, found that 51% of UK households have at least one unused electronic device – such as mobile phones, computers, smart TVs, MP3 players or e-readers – and 45% have up to five. Of these, 82% have no plans to recycle or sell on their devices after they fall out of use.

However, these abandoned electronics lying forgotten at the back of drawers harbour precious elements that are at risk of running out.

Now, chemistry and chemical scientists from universities spanning Southampton to St Andrews have a crucial role to play in identifying new solutions, both in finding alternatives to these rare elements where possible, and in finding new, more effective ways to extract elements from used devices and recycle them.

We were delighted to be able to celebrate this landmark year for the Periodic Table with the Royal Society of Chemistry in this way. Our University has so much chemical heritage; from our connections with the Boots family to the development of the Carbon Neutral Laboratory in collaboration with GSK. The University of Nottingham is also home to the very successful Periodic Table of Videos Youtube channel, which continues to excite the next generation of students who will explore the elements of the Periodic Table with us and who will work towards the development of green and sustainable chemical processes for the future. What a great way to celebrate this important year and the contributions Nottingham has, and continues to make, to our understanding of the elements.
Professor Jon McMaster

As Black Friday deals and the festive season approaches, the sales of new tech devices are expected to spike, prompting the Royal Society of Chemistry to encourage people to reuse their old devices, recycle them or donate them to recycling charities.

Robert Parker, CEO of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Mendeleev Periodic Table of Elements. Now, over a century and a half later, many of the elements discovered are in critical danger of running out.

“We’re really pleased to have the support of some the UK and Ireland’s leading institutions in bringing the importance of the message to life – literally highlighting the responsibility we have in ensuring our old devices are properly recycled.

“In the future, they could be needed for other technologies that we haven’t even discovered yet – for health, green energy, treating pollution and more.”

The RSC hopes the drive will highlight the urgent need for a Right to Recycle bill to be introduced for tech waste, making it quick and easy to dispose of unused devices.

 Pictures courtesy of Press Association.

Story credits

For more information contact Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science on 0115 74 86462 or jane.icke@nottingham.ac.uk

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Email: jane.icke@nottingham.ac.uk
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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the 2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 25 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer, proud of our Athena SWAN silver award, and a key industry partner- locally and globally.

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