Polymer Graduating Class of 2028; Social Impacts and Human Coexistence

Maggie Greyson, a member of our Emerging Fellows program travels to next 10 years and imagines the alternative futures of plastic industry in her third post. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.

 

(Graduation Speech from the Dean of the Plastics Better Alternatives Now Institute)

 

We are here today to celebrate the polymer students of the Plastics Better Alternatives Now Institute Graduating Class of 2028. Your social impact work is changing our world and we have special awards given exclusively for plastics that are compostable, derived from renewables and are 100% biodegradable. Congratulations!

 

(Pause for applause)

 

We started this Institute in response to the Plastics Better Alternatives Now (BAN) List 2.0 of 2017. Dozens of countries around the world started to eliminate single-use plastic in the 2010’s. In response, we convened a Board of Advisors with global experts in science, design, climate change and human factors, to advise us on new forms of value creation for plastic in the era of Anthropocene 2.0.

 

Grads, social impact work is in your synthetic makeup. Thank you for your contribution this year reminding us that the Tupperware Party changed the paradigm for women after WW2. It is hard to imagine a time when keeping food fresher longer was a social innovation but less time spent preparing food meant more time to develop other skills, like entrepreneurship. One of the best projects to come out of the Social Innovation class this year was the Tupperware Roadshow Festival. This group of students adapted fully biodegradable (PHB), food safe plastic for 3D printers to make customized reusable containers for remote regions.

 

In your first semester, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Business Management class teamed you with The Seabin Project. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this project, a Seabin is plastic bucket that floats on the surface of the water and vacuums up plastic debris, microplastics, and microfibres without harming the wildlife. This entrepreneurial student group created a business plan with a DIY design that inspired participants of the 2028 World Economic Forum to create tens of thousands of jobs for humans in plastic collecting technologies.

 

Remember when Kenya banned single-use plastic bags outright in 2017, and the cascade effect which lead to job loss when factories were shut down? The Single-Use Disruptor class was challenged to find an equilibrium between environmental destruction and social well-being. The class globalized an existing job-sharing model that provided new income streams for women who replaced bags of convenience with straw baskets and to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags.

 

We give our enduring gratitude to the Ecoalf Foundation for their renewed sponsorship of the PETA Competition for Ethical Fashion. We recall that our sponsor had humble beginnings as makers of top quality, fashionable clothing, and shoes made from recycled materials. Ten long years ago they worked with just 3,000 fishermen collecting only 250 tons of plastic from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. This year’s award goes to the collaboration that created the most PETA-Approved Vegan leather. Students in the Global Trade Route course aided 400,000 fishermen who lost their jobs in last year’s overfishing crisis to gain employment in a partnership that also restored the Italian fashion economy. Brava!

 

Again, congratulations to the Polymer Graduating Class of 2028 and especially those receiving their PHB stamp of approval. You have matured in your abilities to support humans for better outcomes. We hope that as alumni you continue with your commitment to clinical trials of the genetically modified bacteria. We will eventually turn PET plastic back into its original components for recycling with the world’s most valuable mutant bacteria. Good luck and stay in touch as we develop a post-grad degree, Nanotechnologies in the Food Packaging Industry.

 

© Maggie Greyson 2018