April 25, 2019
Wherever you happen to be reading this, if you look around, you will likely see many objects made of plastic. University of the Pacific is contributing to a global discussion about this ubiquitous material and its impact on the environment through its involvement with the Veolia Institute’s latest publication, Reinventing Plastics, part of its FACTS Reports series.
The idea for this issue came from Dr. David Ojcius, department chair and professor in the Biomedical Sciences department at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. Dr. Ojcius also served as the co-editor of the special issue.
The publication takes a look at the history of plastic, and how it is manufactured, used and disposed of. As plastic manufacturing and use has increased, so has its negative effect on the environment — it is estimated there are 150 million tons of plastic in the ocean, with 8 million additional tons being added each year. Microplastics are ending up in the food chain and in animal and human bodies. This environmental waste is also financial waste, since only a small percentage of the plastic is reused. For example, only 5 percent of plastic packaging material is recycled, and the other 95 percent, which is worth as much as $120 billion, is simply thrown away.
Reinventing Plastics not only spells out the problems, but proposes a number of solutions, including reducing single-use disposable items, finding new sources of manufacturing materials and boosting the recycling infrastructure.
“Our school’s purpose is to help people lead healthy lives, and Dr. Ojcius and his colleagues do that in the broadest sense with this new work connecting environmental health to person-centered health,” said Dr. Nader Nadershahi, dean of the Dugoni School.
Launched in 2001, the Veolia Institute explores the future at the crossroads between society and the environment. Working with the global academic community, it facilitates multi-stakeholder analysis to explore emerging trends, particularly the environmental and societal challenges of the coming decades. The organization began publishing The Veolia Institute Review – FACTS Reports in 2007.