Lighting up Chemistry Week for IYPT
Universities in the UK and Ireland celebrated Chemistry Week by hosting our dynamic light show, highlighting sustainability issues with a growing number of elements.
The projections were held at 11 universities, which used key buildings as a canvas calling for more to be done to enable the recycling of old technology devices – following the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Elements in Danger campaign.
It was also a chance for partnering universities to recognise their crucial role in identifying new solutions, both in finding alternatives to rare elements where possible, and in finding new, more effective ways to extract elements from used devices and recycle them.
As part of the UNESCO International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) celebrating 150 years of the periodic table, Chemistry Week (19-27 November) was an opportunity to highlight the threat to rare elements to the nation’s attention once more.
David Cole-Hamilton, Vice-President of European Chemical Society and Emeritus Professor at University of St Andrews, said: "If we do not start to recycle consumer goods, especially phones and other electronic items, we shall not be able to have these devices for long, certainly not at the low prices we pay now.
"We really need to keep our phones for longer and must have better ways to collect and recycle them when they really are at the end of their life. It is really great to see this message being projected onto many buildings across the UK."
Professor Colin Pulham, Head of School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We are proud to host one of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s events to celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the world-class research conducted by our scientists, which is having direct and positive impacts on our society.
"It also highlights the importance of chemistry’s central role to find and deliver sustainable solutions to a global problem that we all face today- the scarcity of technologically critical elements. This celebration presents a great opportunity to spread this important message."
Lighting up Chemistry Week for IYPT 2019
Watch the highlights video on our YouTube channel...
RSC’s Science and the Parliament
The light show ran for two hours on the side of David Hume Tower Lecture Theatres in Edinburgh’s George Square, capping off a full day of events in the capital – including our Science and the Parliament event.
Here, we brought together the Scottish scientific and political communities to discuss issues around sustainability, and there was also a parliamentary debate at Holyrood.
The debate discussed IYPT and our Elements in Danger campaign, which revealed that 82% of people have no plans to recycle or sell on their devices after they fall out of use, often unaware of the precious elements they contain, including gold and indium. Natural sources of six of the elements found in mobile phones are set to run out within the next 100 years.
It is hoped the parliamentary debate will also prompt discussion about the continued support of scientific research, STEM education, international collaboration, skills development and sustainability in order to continue Scotland’s legacy as a world leader in science.
Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who presented the keynote speech at Science in Parliament, said: "Continued breakthroughs in science and innovative technical solutions will be needed to meet many of the outstanding challenges, such as reducing our reliance on finite global resources by finding new ways to use and reuse materials and technology."
Dr Robert Parker, CEO of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: "We’re really pleased to have brought our message to the UK’s greenest city with a full day of events raising awareness of this critical issue at the highest level and 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."