Plastic pollution is a global problem that defies a singular solution. Our Plastic Problem and How to Solve It considers plastic's harm to the environment, from its production to its disposal, and offers a spectrum of solutions that require action by local and federal governments, businesses and non-profits, and individuals. Using specific examples and case studies, the book describes the history and chemistry of plastic, illustrates its harms, and points toward specific legislation and policies to offer concrete solutions. Plastic pollution is ubiquitous and has impacts on soil, food, air, and water. To solve our plastic problem, collaboration across disciplines will be critical; innovations in science, law, and design will be essential. The book demonstrates the need to approach environmental problems from an interdisciplinary lens and will benefit anyone interested in learning more about the harms and solutions associated with plastic pollution.
Part I. Plastic in the Environment:
1. The proliferation of plastic
2. Measuring plastic: 'You can't manage what you don't measure.'
3. Plastic as a pollutant: A revolutionary material becomes a global threat
Part II. Multimodal Approaches to Solving Our Plastic Problem:
4. Federal efforts
5. State and local efforts
6. International efforts
7. Business, NGO and individual efforts
Part III. Innovation and Design:
8. Plastic alternatives: bioplastics and material
9. Plastic's end: recycling, removal and revaluing
10. The circular economy
Sarah J. Morath is a lawyer, a writer, an educator, and a scientist. Her interdisciplinary scholarship has appeared in a variety of publications and is widely read and cited. She is the editor of From Farm to Fork: Perspectives on Growing Sustainable Food Systems in the Twenty-First Century (University of Akron Press, 2016). Professor Morath holds degrees from Vassar College, Yale University, and the University of Montana School of Law. She is currently a law professor at Wake Forest University School of Law.
"Sarah Morath explores the plastics problem with careful research, compelling examples, vivid insights, and thoughtful suggestions about the path forward – covering the laws, treaties, policies, organizations, strategies, and industries that will be critical to bringing an end to plastic pollution, and moving society toward a sustainable future."
– Dan Esty, Yale Law and Environment Schools; Editor, A Better Planet: 40 Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future
"From a fascinating history of plastics to a thoughtful review of policy options, this book will be a fun and valuable read for experts and the general public."
– Michael P. Vandenbergh, David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair in Law, Vanderbilt University Law School
"Plastic has gone from a technological marvel to a global 'wicked problem' with no silver bullet solution. Sarah Morath has assembled an indispensable guide for anyone hoping to learn about the origins and impacts of our plastic problem. Her extensive survey of multimodal and innovative governance responses will be an essential playbook for public and private policy makers from local to global scales."
– J. B. Ruhl, Vanderbilt University Law School, co-author of The Law and Policy of Ecosystem Services