ENVI 329
Our Planet's Plastic Plight Spring 2019

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#stopsucking, #gotopless, #foodinthenude: these rallying calls to #rethinkplastic and ban plastic straws, coffee cups, and excessive food packaging are just the latest consumer-driven campaigns to combat the scourge of plastic proliferation. Indeed, over the past century, plastic has become ubiquitous in our societies. Durability, affordability and versatility, the very characteristics that explain this success, have heightened the pollution challenge we face today. Yet, we also rely on plastic for a variety of life-saving devices and implements. In this course, we will examine the chemistry and history of plastic and understand how its uses have impacted diverse systems including our oceans. As we undertake this semester-long lifecycle analysis of plastic in our daily lives, we will explore how additives, often toxic, complicate efforts to recycle plastic goods. We will also study international flows of this material, notably following China’s decision in 2017 to constrain its imports of plastics for recycling. Finally, we will evaluate novel efforts to regulate plastic from the local to the global scale.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3551
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation, several small assignments, multi-part project setting out action plan to address a particular aspect of plastic pollution
Prerequisites: ENVI 101 or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Environmental Studies majors, Public Health concentrators
Distributions: No divisional credit
Notes: No Divisional Credit
Attributes: ENVI Environmental Policy

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