Solutions to Plastics
November 5, 2018
9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering
Solutions to Plastics addresses the compelling problem of global plastic pollution. Plastic products are very cheap to make from petroleum but extremely difficult to extract from waste streams.Different types of plastics, unlike aluminum cans, cannot necessarily be recycled together.
There is great value for global society from improving recycling beyond reducing waste. A special section of The Economist for September 29, 2018 reported, for example, that recycling aluminum saves 95 percent of energy compared with smelting new metal, and successfully recycling plastics saves 88 percent from that required to create new plastic.
The magnitude of the challenge is that 90 percent of plastics discharged by waterways comes from only ten rivers, two of them in Africa and the rest in Asia. By way of comparison, 18 tons is discharged from the Thames River in England and 2.5 million tons is discharged by the Yangzi River in China.
The overall purpose of the Solutions to Plastics conference is reflected in the title: to contribute to cooperative engagement and increased understanding across the institutions of the scientific community, government, business, education and empowered citizens and civil society.