Conflicts in Chemistry: The Case of Plastics

Waste

Waste

The permanence of plastic litter, like these bottles on a lake surface, concerns many environmental activists.

The permanence of plastic litter, like these bottles on a lake surface, concerns many environmental activists.

Plastic waste is one of today’s biggest environmental threats. Because plastic does not biodegrade, it can stay in the environment forever, creating long-term consequences. You believe bans on one-use, disposable plastic and limitations on all plastic production are the only way to address the plastic problem.  

Read the Original Regulation and your group’s Goals and Recommendations for the final regulation, and use them to prepare answers to the following questions, which the Regulators will ask during the Hearing:

1.    Recycling in the United States is currently a function of municipal governments. Who should be responsible for plastic waste? Should the producers of plastics bear more of a burden than the consumers? What is the role of individual responsibility in addressing the matter of plastic waste?

2.    Only a small percentage of plastic waste in the United States is recovered for recycling, meaning most plastic trash goes into landfills. What is the best way to reduce the amount of plastic entering the waste stream? Is curbside recycling the best option? Do we need to develop new methods of recycling and fuel recovery? Or is reducing plastic production and consumption the best way to reduce waste?

3.    The goal of this hearing is to create a federal regulation that will effectively address concerns about plastics. What issues would governmental regulation of plastics most effectively address? What can be accomplished without governmental regulation that would improve the way we use and dispose of plastics? What new problems might result from these regulations?

4.    What historical cases, examples, or evidence provide useful lessons about the successes or failures of addressing the impact and implications of our uses of plastics?

5.    Do the problems caused by our use of plastics outweigh the benefits that they provide?

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Activist

An environmentalist who first brought public awareness to the pollution in the Pacific Gyre and who continues to conduct research and promote the awareness of marine pollution.

Anti-Waste Activist and Blogger

An individual who writes about efforts to eliminate plastics from daily life and who encourages others to do the same.

Representative of Plastics Pollution Coalition

A marine biologist deeply concerned about the danger plastic trash poses to marine animals and ecosystems.

Artist and Anti-Waste Activist

An artist who uses plastic trash to create art as a form of advocacy against waste.

Recycling Reformer

A lobbyist who promotes the passage of new recycling legislation at local and state levels.

Expert on Plastic-to-Oil Recycling

A scientist who is deeply concerned about the problems of plastic waste in the environment and who sees innovative recycling as the most viable solution.