• Carlo Broderick

NAS Science Session: New Approaches to Solving the Plastics Dilemma (Featuring: Susannah Scott)

Science Session: New Approaches to Solving the Plastics Dilemma

Sunday, April 26, 2020 11:30 a.m. EDT


Plastics are a vital part of modern life. Current commodity plastics, such as polyethylene, polystyrene, and polypropylene, are comprised of large organic molecules known as polymers, which are derived from non-renewable fossil fuels and designed to be durable and resistant to degradation. Due to the versatile properties of these synthetic materials and their low cost, global plastics production has reached an unfathomable rate of more than 400 million metric tons per year. It is hard to imagine a world without plastics – they keep our food safe, are fundamental components of electronic devices, allow fuel-efficient vehicles, among an almost endless list of beneficial applications. However, there is a detrimental side of plastics that creates a growing crisis; for plastic packaging, approximately 1/3 is leaked into the environment, 40% is clogging our landfills. Only 10% is recycled, with just 2% undergoing closed-loop recycling. This session explores a revolution in the field of polymer science that includes a transition to renewable feedstocks, the development of environmentally-degradable materials, plastics that can protect, report, heal and even regenerate themselves, and upcycling of plastics to new fuels, chemicals and materials. The webcast will be available at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday, April 26.

Organizer: Geoffrey W. Coates, Tisch University Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University


  • Marc A. Hillmyer, Professor, NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers, University of Minnesota

  • Jeffrey S. Moore, Stanley O. Ikenberry Endowed Chair and Director, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Susannah Scott, Distinguished Professor and Mellichamp Chair, Sustainable Catalytic Processing, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara