Researcher Highlights Imperative to Reduce Plastic Use
By Romero Halloway
We here at Littorary are reliant on the good work of many researchers who tackle the study of plastic waste and its impact on the global environment.
We would like to highlight the work of one researcher in particular — Jenna Jambeck.
Jambeck is a researcher at the University of Georgia, who has published several landmark studies on plastic waste using her expertise as an environmental engineer to look at both the technical and social aspects of the increasingly intractable pollution problem.
Her most recent study, published on Oct. 30, in the journal Science Advances, focuses on how the United States contributes to the plastic waste scourge that is littering pristine beaches across the globe.
“In the case of the United States, it is critically important that we examine our own backyard and take responsibility for our global plastic footprint,” Jambeck said in a release.
The study found that the U.S. contributes to pollution through plastic production and litter, despite claims that the problem is unique to the developing world.
While the United States accounts for 4% of the world population, the country contributes 17% of the plastic waste generated. Americans generate nearly twice the amount of plastic pollution per capita compared to Europeans.
While the United States maintains a robust plastic waste collection system, much of the trash still ends up in the environment because the nation exports much of its plastic recyclables to other countries where plastic management is not as effective.
“Our analysis demonstrates that the United States has contributed enormous amounts of plastic waste to the environment, including the ocean, despite having robust waste management infrastructure to collect, transport, and process waste,” the researchers wrote.
The implication of the study is that no matter the collection infrastructure, or the commitments to recycling plastics, the nonbiodegradable material will still end up in the environment at unsustainable levels.
The solution is not better recycling or waste collection, but the use of new and better materials and manufacturing techniques. Jambeck tells Plastics Recycling Updates, a trade publication, that upstream product and material choice are keys to plastic waste reduction.
“We should be considering end-of-cycle at the design stage,” Jambeck said.
We here at Littorary are doing just that, designing for end of life, by crafting and manufacturing a product that leverages our expertise in material science and product design.
Part of our mission is to raise awareness, and we will continue to highlight the important work of Jambeck and other researchers that focus on plastic waste.
Our organization feels strongly that the most effective way to reduce plastic waste in the environment is to significantly reduce the number of plastics that are used by consumers on a daily basis. The only way to do this effectively is to produce a viable alternative.
Our team is committed to making durable and sophisticated products that rival the convenience of plastics without the environmental burden. We believe technology and design innovations can revolutionize how Americans and the world consume products in concert with the health of the environment. Please stay tuned to our website, blog, and upcoming Kickstarter page as we unveil a product fully capable of providing the convenience and sustainability that will consign the concept of disposable plastics to the garbage heap of history.