A growing topic in the environmental community around the world is about plastic, and what to do with the growing amount of waste material that seems to complement our growing populations and rising middle classes. As we consume more as a planet, much of which is packaged, or which is designed to be thrown away after a single use, we face a complex puzzle of durable, lightweight non-standardized products and materials which are extremely tough to create value from. When most of our cities and countries lack the recycling facilities which have been upgraded to address the challenges of this kaleidoscope of products, we end up with solid waste problems that few can properly address.
The Plasticity Forum, now in its fifth year, was created to bring some of the world’s best minds together to share their knowledge, new innovations, and develop collaborations which can help scale some of the solutions which are often not entering the market fast enough to counter the growing waste implications we are all facing. You may have read the estimate that by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish, and in fact, this is likely to happen early than this estimate suggests, because new studies show that illegal and overfishing estimates are also much less than they actually are. So why does this matter?
Unlike the assumptions for climate change impacts in the future, plastic pollution impacts hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis today. It impacts our water quality, health, fishing, tourism and quality of living in our cities, parks and communities. Similar to climate change, virtually all companies and communities use plastic in many ways, and thus we all have a responsibility to be better stewards of the materials that we produce, or dispose of. The Plasticity Forum tackles some of these hard-to-answer questions by showcasing solutions which are already being implemented, or new innovations which are just coming into the market. The challenge for all of them is the issue of “scale,” and how to advance the use of these products, materials, methods and processes, so that we can develop a world which is much more “circular” by design, so that we think of creating products which can be easily recovered and converted, and the resources un-wasted.
It is exciting timing for Plasticity to be in Shanghai at the end of April, as it is during CHINAPLAS 2016, which is the second largest plastic trade show in the world, and which now endorses the Plasticity Forum. This timing also complements the Chinese Petrochemical and Chemical Industry Federation’s (CPCIF) recent membership to the World Plastics Council, which has a goal of reducing plastic going to the ocean. By hosting this discussion in Shanghai, where many of the global buyers of products are based, and where the economy is beginning to transform itself into higher value-added innovation, processing and materials, we hope to spur broader collective mindshare on how brands, industry and municipalities can create a world with a reduced waste footprint.
The Plasticity Forum gathers leading experts, including innovators, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, brand managers, educators, think tanks, government agencies, designers and investors to share key learnings, experience and strategies around the use and recovery of plastic. This year’s forum will include the latest developments in waste as a resource, scalable innovations in plastic that save money, use of new materials, designing for sustainability, and solutions for a world where plastic is valued as the resource that it is, particularly in its “afterlife.”
Speakers included crowd-favorite Dr. Mike Biddle, clean-tech entrepreneur, founder and board member of MBA Polymers, who has also won the 2012 Gothenburg Sustainability Prize, Economist Innovation Award, World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer, World Technology Network Award and many others. Hong Kong’s own Kim Siu, the General Manager of Marketing for A.S. Watsons will also be presenting. He was responsible for the exciting shift from zero to 100% recycled PET material for Watsons Water bottles in Hong Kong in 2015, the first company in Asia to make such a move, saving 75,000,000 bottles from the waste stream as a result. An added feature to this year’s event will be a 1/2 day workshop on the 28th, “Go Circular – Envisioning Products & Packaging in a Circular Economy.”